The Cartoneros project aims to increase recycling rates while improving working and living conditions for urban collectors and recycling cooperatives in Argentina.
Argentina’s recycling industry is characterized by an informal economy and low productivity. Urban collectors gather recyclable materials, often under inadequate working conditions and for low financial return. Some work individually while others have organized into cooperatives. Paperboard is the main recycled material and plastic (PET) is collected in lower quantities.
Some cities in Argentina, including Buenos Aires, have established initiatives to support the development of the recycling industry and provide secure jobs for waste pickers. In this context, Danone is committed to supporting effective waste management systems and increasing the amount of recycled plastic (r-PET) in its products.
The Cartoneros project was co-created with several partners and aimed, during its Phases 1 and 2 (2011–2020), at creating an inclusive recycling program to improve the quality of life of urban collectors working in Argentina, and to increase recycling rates by supporting the development of waste management ecosystems. The project wrapped up these phases successfully, with 32 cooperatives and 3,422 urban collectors professionally empowered in 25 cities of Argentina.
With the support of Danone Ecosystem, Aguas Danone de Argentina, Fundación Avina and the Inter-American Foundation, the partners launched a new phase (2021–2023) that aims to continue empowering waste pickers while strengthening the recycling system in Argentina, reaching 4,500 urban collectors.
The program invests in materials and new sorting facilities, and connects them with waste collection cooperatives. It provides both cooperatives and large waste generators with training and offers technical assistance to the cooperatives. Waste pickers benefit from improved working conditions (security, equipment) and are empowered through management and life skills trainings that help them to secure a fair wage. An awareness-raising campaign aims to increase recognition for their work and encourage citizens to sort their waste.
Under the picture, some generated results.
wastepickers with an increased or secured revenue
tons of recylables collected each month