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Co-designing with the community, for the community in Argentina

March 10, 2021

A behind the scenes look at the launch of GIRO’s first pilot in Olavarría

This week our Argentina team launched their first pilot of the GIRO recycling program in Olavarría. For Mariela Pascua, a member of our Rethinking Recycling Argentina team and a long time resident of Olavarría, the excitement is palpable.

“I am very excited to launch and to see how the community responds. Our city was chosen among many cities, and I am very proud that we were chosen. For a city like Olavarría that has been working on modernization for a long time, starting to rethink the way we consume and manage our waste is a fundamental step to achieve this transformation”.

GIRO Olavarría marks our largest program to-date at Rethinking Recycling and builds on the success of our Barrio 31, Buenos Aires program in Argentina. Like all our programs, our team is working closely with the community, including the Municipality of Olavarría, local business, cooperatives and residents, to co-create the program. Additionally, we are glad to report that we have partnered with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Amcor to support the program delivery. These partnerships are enabling our ability to drive grass-root impact. As we like to say – it takes a village to make change and every player is an important part of the puzzle.

Co-designing with the community 

“The strength of this program is in how we are co-designing with the community.” says program manager Larissa Sakamoto. The program started with gaining a better understanding of what the community wants and needs, and listening to residents about the strengths and weaknesses of Olavarría’s current waste management and recycling systems. 

To construct a deep understanding of residents’ current waste experience we conducted dozens of interviews, launched surveys within the community and hosted both focus groups and walking interviews.

“Throughout our research we learned that residents believe the community prides itself on being a clean, well-maintained and modern city that is healthy and vivacious,” says Brian McGough who is part of the behavior change team. 

We also heard about areas where residents thought the program could improve like a desire for more streamlined information and education and for a more integrated recycling program. 

Overall residents are excited about more accessible recycling solutions, and we are working hand-in-hand with the community to design new solutions for the city with a focus on recycling in mind. 

Empowering Waste Workers 

Local cooperatives and waste workers are central to this effort. Waste workers face challenging conditions in their work, and are also experts in day to day waste management. Paz Porres from our team is leading the social inclusion plan and is working closely with waste workers, to ensure their voices are heard and their livelihoods are improved through the program. 

Paz says, “what I am passionate about is inclusion and working with waste pickers, who are the most vulnerable in society. As the program grows we want to ensure that their basic needs are covered, and then add more value, such as educational and health benefits that improve their lives and those of their families.” 

Looking toward the future 

We are embarking on a path towards the development of an inclusive and sustainable recycling system in Olavarría, where each person plays a key role. 

These changes are coming at the right time for the community as Emilia Díaz from the Olavarría Municipality reminds us “We have a great challenge ahead of us, to work and dream together in the city we want: more sustainable, inclusive and modern. It will not be easy but I think that we Olavarrienses are ready to begin with this much-needed cultural change.”

Together with the communities across the globe, our Rethinking Recycling team continues to build green, inclusive and economic recycling ecosystems. Follow along on social media to learn more about our programs as they scale. 

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