Brazil's 'Catadores' Turn Collected Trash into Beautiful Works of Art

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SAP is a well known $18 billion enterprise software company that helps businesses across the world keep their operations running seamlessly. What many of us do not realize is SAP lends its employees to advise non-profits around the world so that they can boost economic opportunities for some of the world’s poorest citizens. One success is in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

As is the case with many cities in Brazil, Belo Horizonte’s urban poor include catadores, itinerant trash collectors who collect garbage from businesses and residential areas. The work is tedious, difficult, dirty and of course, dangerous, but this is the only way some of Belo Horizonte’s catadores can support themselves and their families. Many of spent time in prison or much of their lives in the streets and therefore have no other way to make a living. One non-governmental organization, ASMARE, has connected garbage collectors to the training and social services they need to become more self-reliant professionals. The result is more skills for these catadores, many of whom eventually move into other lines of businesses and build a better life for themselves and their families. Recently a group of SAP employees spent a sabbatical in Belo Horizonte and worked with ASMARE’s staff to create a new communications plan, catalog the organization’s services and redesign its website.

As a result, ASMARE and its partners have even more opportunities to sell more of furniture and art, most of which catadores themselves make out of materials including discarded tires, plastic bottles and magazine scraps. In addition to keeping waste out of Belo Horizonte’s landfills, the art we feature in the following slideshow gives ASMARE a steady revenue stream and for the trash collectors turned artists, self-esteem and hope.

Scrap Metal Figurines

scrap metal, ASMARE, SAP, Brazil
Photo: SAP
scrap metal, ASMARE, SAP, Brazil
ASMARE, Reciclo restaurant, recycled aluminum can chandelier, Brazil
ASMARE, SAP, reuse
tire recycling, ASMARE, Brazil
reused paper, ASMARE, Brazil, SAP
SAP, ASMARE workshop, Brazil, recycled paper and metal
recycled paper, pipe, wall art, Brazil
aluminum can recycling, art, Brazil, ASMARE

A catadore-turned-artist created these five figurines out of scrap metal typical of what the trash collectors gather. The artist creates all types of figures, from musicians to warrior figures, and sells them through ASMARE’s Reciclo art store and at local markets in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Read: How to Recycle Metal

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