Informal Waste Sector, Brazil (2012)

In 2012, we partnered with Coca-Cola, The Avina Foundation and local NGOs to accelerate their efforts to build the capacity of small waste picker cooperatives (catadores) – and to get them prepared to participate in the supply chain of multinational companies as dependable and credible suppliers of recyclable materials.

The Institute team developed a business-to-business Rapid Results model where each cooperative commits to a 100-day capacity building goal, which in turns triggers a small investment in the coop by one of its value-chain partners. We worked with three cooperatives in Recife, and with their investing partners: the local Coca Cola bottler and Frompet (one of Brazil’s largest plastic providers.)


The three cooperatives achieved their 100-day goals – and made significant improvements along the way:

  • One cooperative was able to triple its production within three months. This was done without outside investment.

  • Two cooperatives located in the municipality of Abreu-e-Lima were able to set up and run an accounting system for the first time. This required not only learning basic accounting (despite low levels of financial literacy), but also creating and following consistent procedures for tracking financial data throughout the organization.

  • All three cooperatives reported stronger delegation of tasks throughout their organizations.

As importantly, for many members of the cooperatives, there was a sense of becoming valued partners in the value chain, ones who make tough commitments and deliver on them. Similarly for the participants from Coca Cola and Frompet, they began to view the cooperative members as business partners not just recipients of charity.

The Coca Cola Institute in Brazil is building on this work and integrating it into a broader effort to upgrade the capabilities of the waste picker cooperatives in the country.

The work was sponsored by the Office of Sustainable Packaging in the Coca Cola Company.

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