"Development is local. Cooperatives and other entreprises of the social and solidarity economy work in the development of our local communities. All money generated by Creando Conciencia stays in Benavidez. This is what we have to keep strengthening!"
Ramiro Martínez – Board member of Creando Conciencia
Location: Benavidez, Tigre municipality, Buenos Aires
Year of Foundation: 2004
Number of Members: 51
Sector: Waste recycling
Key themes: Women’s empowerment, decent work, environmental protection
- 5 Gender Equality
- 8 Decent work and economic growth
- 10 Reduced Inequalities
- 12 Responsible consumption and production
Creando Conciencia (Creating Consciousness) is a worker cooperative set up in the aftermath of the 2001 economic crisis. It was founded in 2005 by a group of neighbours who were greatly concerned about the final disposal of urban solid waste and the issue of urban waste pickers (known as “cartoneros”). They were also interested in the possibility of generating alternatives that address these issues through social responsibility and sustainability. Today, the cooperative has 51 members, 60% of which are women. Their main services are the collection, selection and classification of waste, as well as recycling as much dry waste as possible. In addition, through the initiative Creando Equipamiento (creating furniture), the cooperative transforms recycled plastic into beautiful outdoor furniture.
Key Learning Points
- Experiences such as Creando Conciencia show that it is possible to combine climate action with decent work and the inclusion of marginalized people, while developing a sustainable enterprise. Even more, statistics on the coop’s activity prove that there is still a huge potential to be unlocked: Creando Conciencia processes and reinserts in the market on average 220 tons of waste per month. While just in the Municipality where they are located, waste generated exceeds 800 tons per day. In other words, there is still plenty of room for coops like Creando Conciencia to increase their recycling capacity.
- Cooperatives are key drivers of local development. The positive results generated by the Creando Conciencia cooperative, in terms of wealth creation, environmental care and social inclusion, also have a positive impact in the immediate surroundings where the coop is located, making them a leading actor in a circular economy system.
- The people excluded by the economic and social system, such as single mothers, unemployed people, and waste pickers, become visionary leaders and key protagonists of their own story in a coop like Creando Conciencia. There, they are not only able to change their personal stories and those from their families, but also make an impact on the communities in which they live.