Natura and Sitawi create Fund to support recycling cooperatives in the Amazon to collect plastics in rivers and streams

The Amazonian arm of the Natura Elos program, the Rios Vivos project, an initiative of the Natura &Co group (Natura, Avon The Body Shop and Aesop) which since 2019 has been dedicated to structuring the chain of recyclable materials for packaging of the Natura &Co group, now has a Fund to support the expansion of activities in the region, managed by Sitawi.

The Living Rivers Fund will drive the structuring of sustainable post-consumer plastic chains assisted by the project, leveraging greater volumes of recycled materials for manufacturing Natura packaging. Through the Fund, Natura &Co will make contributions that will be used to improve the cooperatives located in the centers already created, and to expand the project to other locations in the Amazon. A Sitawi will manage the Fund's finances, facilitating, providing transparency and ensuring traceability in the processes with the cooperatives. 

Currently, it is estimated that more than 90% of plastic items that reach the oceans are transported by rivers – and the Amazon basin is the main route for these materials to the sea in South America. The collection, separation and recycling of this waste, which can be used as a secondary raw material for the packaging industries, for example, are mechanisms that help to reduce the impacts of this irregular disposal.

In April of this year, Médio Juruá, the first center created by Rios Vivos, collected more than 500 kilos of plastic from ten riverside communities, in a business model that transforms the volume of waste delivered by each family into credits to be used in the local market. Waste that would end up in creeks and in the bed of the Juruá river is now sent to the Association of Collectors of Recyclable Materials Nós Podemos, located in the municipality of Carauari, in Amazonas.

In the city of Manaus, the Rios Vivos project mobilized six associations to collect post-consumer plastic. The perspective is to recover a total of 60 tons of PET and PP plastics still in 2022. The most recent initiative is the implementation of the first nucleus in the State of Pará. In May, Rios Vivos selected and entered into a partnership with the first cooperative in Belém. 

?Keeping the forest standing also depends on the health of the rivers and, therefore, on the proper collection and disposal of waste in these locations?, says Sergio Talocchi, reverse logistics manager at Natura &Co. In this sense, he emphasizes that the work carried out with Amazonian cooperatives contributes to the conservation of this watershed, which is so important for the country, in addition to contributing to the reduction of waste destined for landfills and dumps.

By promoting circularity and remunerating people involved in the recovery of materials in the Amazon region, the project reinforces Natura's three causes: Amazônia Viva, as it contributes to the conservation of the biome through the collection of solid residues that compromise forest ecosystems; More Beauty Less Garbage, by promoting recycling, contributing to the reduction of the volume of plastic that reaches rivers and seas; and Each Person Matters, by promoting the social inclusion of waste pickers, professionalization of the sector and income generation. 

The initiative also reiterates the goals established by the group's 2030 Vision, which addresses three main fronts: tackling the climate crisis and protecting the Amazon, guaranteeing gender equity and social inclusion, and embracing circularity and regeneration in all of the company's businesses. company.

For Talocchi, the next step is to engage other players, in addition to Natura &Co, in contributions that help structure these recycling chains. ?We are following a path similar to the one we took to build socio-biodiversity chains more than two decades ago, now with a focus on waste. By training and strengthening these cooperatives, will we contribute to strengthening the recycling chains in the Amazon?, he adds.

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