Grass roots cooperatives in Brazil

The Club of Helsinki was launched with a research project in collaboration with the University of São Paolo and a cooperative of informal recyclable collectors called Coopamare, the first cooperative of ‘Catadores’ in Brazil.
Today, over a thousand cooperatives like Coopamare form an important national support network supporting formalised systems of waste collection. The network is highly organised and are self-managed and financed through the independent collection, sorting and selling of recyclable materials.
As a grass roots organisation, the network and cooperatives have raised political awareness of urban development issues and the challenges mega-cities across the world face. The cooperative model has proven itself to be relevant, scalable and transferrable to other contexts and localities, able to engage large amounts of people normally excluded from the industrial model of production and consumption.

As of yet, these types of informal networks are an untapped resource for sustainable development. Our aim is to turn ‘wasted into wanted’ by capturing the tremendous energy and knowledge of informal cooperatives and citizens alike, providing insights for informed legislation, business and governance.

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