“We are an eternal start-up. We evolve constantly”

The recycling market in Rio de Janeiro is not for “amateurs”. And those in charge of the management of many of the existing cooperatives are female entrepreneurs. In the context of the COVID pandemic, in particular, it is necessary to adapt, try out new processes, and take risks to generate more business. Read below one more story of our series of inspiring women who fight for the valorisation of the environmental services provided by waste collectors.

Waste has changed places. With the pandemic, waste left companies and went to people’s homes. Condominiums are the new flagships. We need to do five van trips to get the same volume of waste transported by one truck. We grew from 14 to 32 cooperative members. In fact, we are an eternal startup, we evolve all the time“.

The statement comes from Cooper Ecológica’s co-founder Clarisse Aramian, who has led the cooperative where 17 women work, for seven years. Clarisse, a graduate in Geography and daughter of traders, recalls how she became interested in the recycling market. While attending a lecture at college on waste management in Rio de Janeiro, she was surprised to hear that recycling was a myth: “Recycling was a job opportunity in the neighbourhood of Jardim Gramacho, where almost 40,000 people depended on rubbish for a living. Whole generations lived off the dump for more than 30 years. More than 10,000 tons were dumped every day in the largest dump in Latin America” she said.

Post-graduated in Environmental Law in 2012 and Master in Environmental Engineering from UFF, the community leader decided together with a childhood friend, Paulinho, and five other colleagues to found the cooperative in 2014. One of her big dreams was to motivate waste collectors to work as cooperative members and to better structure the processes of the recycling chain. “When we become cooperative members, we gain responsibility”, she highlights regarding the strength of the collective for the development of people and the community. Clarisse says that there are many opportunities in various functions in the market today. “We need transport for waste, truck maintenance, recyclers, compactors, forklift operators, etc.,” she emphasises.

Cooper Ecológica believes in “recycling” also knowledge, the importance of using new technologies and exchanging experiences with universities. The idea is to empower all cooperative members for their personal and professional growth. “I have no doubt that women can overcome all barriers and grow in the activities in which they propose to work“.

Cooper Ecológica has a cooperative member today who is responsible for the commercial area, Rafaela Rebello who is an environmental engineer, a masters student at COPPE/RJ on urban mining, circular economy and waste of electro-electronic equipment. In the administrative area, they have Queyla Carvalho, who has a degree in executive secretarial work. There are always opportunities. Despite all the difficulties, during the covid pandemic they acquired a used forklift truck and a new RollOn Rolloff bucket and already have two members wanting to be operators.

One of Clarisse’s goals is to be able to engage more and more people to change their habits and adopt selective collection in their homes. She says that the cooperative members have been separating dry and wet waste in their own homes for only three years. It is by setting an example that we can move forward. Let’s be “Clarisse”!