The Cooperative model as a tool for shared awareness
The worker cooperative Creando Conciencia (Creating Awareness) was born in the year 2005 in Argentina, upon the initiative of a group of neighbours greatly worried about the final disposal of urban solid waste, the problem of urban garbage collectors (“cartoneros”) and the possibility of generating alternatives that could address these problems with social responsibility and sustainability. Based on such concerns, the group began to think about the possibility of designing the process of differentiated waste collection in their own neighbourhoods.
29 July 2015
This is therefore a solidarity undertaking that was initiated following two major guidelines: on the one hand the protection of the environment and, on the other, the work reintegration of the unemployed in the northern area of the province of Buenos Aires.
Edgardo Jalil, member of the cooperative, described the start-up phase of the cooperative when the collectors provided their recycling know-how to those who had “the idea in their head, theoretically speaking. They were youngsters who were hired by large waste collection companies for three months and then left out in the cold even though they were knowledgeable about recycling, knowledge that was transferred to the cooperative”, he indicated.
Creando Conciencia managed to generate recycled material of excellent quality since it avoids contamination in each and every stage, which allows them to obtain agreements with large recyclers. Among the tasks performed we find: pickers’ teams and supervisors, selection and classification. These tasks are performed at the cooperative’s headquarters by groups of members of the cooperative, mainly composed of women, who classify materials that had been pre-sorted by neighbours and businesses. There, recyclable materials are wrapped and compressed, to be later commercialized. Jalil emphasized: “we can negotiate with those companies and we set the terms ourselves because we know how they want the material and, besides, we are always able to carry it in the conditions they want.”
The cooperative Creando Conciencia has established a space for training and advice as it intends to both generate and accompany learning processes linked to the environment, destined to their clients, organizations and neighbours that share a commitment towards waste treatment in a responsible manner. Through activities, talks and meetings, the goal is to recuperate and highlight the knowledge of local communities in relation to waste and the latter’s responsible treatment, doing so through social inclusion. Likewise, the cooperative members aim at stimulating a critical analysis of the information related to the environment, to trigger change in terms of knowledge, thought and action as well as improve their setting.
Creando Conciencia is member of the Federation of Worker Cooperatives of the Argentine Republic (FECOOTRA).