Two thousands tons of garbage is produced everyday in Recife. It is the equivalent of 13 Boeing 747 airplanes, with capacity for 800 passengers.

Every. Single. Day.

The city doesn’t seem able (or willing) to deal with all this waste and the large majority of what is recycled (more than 99%) is done by informal street garbage pickers or independent, non-governmental organizations. Still, the largest portion of all the garbage is not properly separated or recycled and goes to landfill sites and even to the ocean. Most of the population does not have access to any recycling programmes or the necessary information to even understand the importance of recycling.  As you can see, this is a big problem.

With the upcoming World Cup, also hosted by Recife, there are dozens of apartment complexes rising across the city and they will result in even more waste being produced in some areas.

Instituto Solidare is a non-for profit organisation that assists some of the poorest areas in Recife, with more than 500 children attending their programmes. They fight against the tough social and economic reality that the people of their communities face every day. The organisation works towards the formation of citizens, who once involved with their projects, are more aware of their potential to transform their own reality. Solidare also works to improve household incomes as a way to fight many issues that are directly related to poverty, like health, education and malnutrition.

Over the years, Instituto Solidare identified a link between the garbage waste, the programmes they offer and people they are trying to help. For instance, when the communities assisted by Solidare do not deal with their waste properly, a large portion of it goes to the river that crosses the communities, causing floods and the spreading of diseases. In addition, another problem they have had over the years is that often families live under such income insecurity that they have to move to other communities to look for better living conditions (and therefore take the children off Solidare’s programs). Sometimes the “better” living conditions mean making an extra 20 dollars per month.  

So Solidare found a way to address all these issues and help the mothers keep their children in Solidare, while generating more income. They came up with the idea of Project Seleta.

Seleta is a project funded by the Federal Bank, Caixa Economica, and formed by an association of mothers that are trying to provide their children with better life conditions and opportunities. The project will use the waste production to generate income and improve the livelihoods of the families assisted by Solidare.

Seleta has two objectives: one is to engage local residents and businesses to separate their recyclables and donate them to Seleta and the other one is to generate income from the collected materials. The women in the project showed great talent in the making of handcrafts with the recyclables and now they want to make a brand out of it: one that it’s known by its quality and beautiful products, that has amazing social outcomes. This TIE project will help them develop an identity and strategy for their brand.