Uruguay Circular Awards 2021

Uruguay Circular Awards 2021

MONTEVIDEO, 27 October 2021 - The winners of the third Uruguay Circular Awards have been announced. Six awards were given and five initiatives mentioned in recognition of efforts to integrate circular economy processes in different areas of Uruguay's industry and society. The award ceremony is promoted by the United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Uruguay Programme, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM), the National Development Agency (ANDE), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

In the large companies' category, the winning initiative was the Uruguayan arm of the international leather producer, Bader, which is reducing the consumption of water from a semi-surging well used for the daily filling of cabins and extraction tanks in the leather-finishing process. By reusing the final effluent, Bader is able to reduce the consumption of well water and reduce the amount of effluent discharged. The result so far is a reduction of approximately 300 to 500 m3 per month. At the same time, the amount of final effluent discharged into the canal has been reduced by 40%.

In the MSME category, the winning initiative was RCD Reciclaje. This company manages construction waste by generating new products from recycled concrete, reducing the volume of rubble in landfills. They revalue waste, working in line with international circular economy models and the new waste law. Its purpose is to promote recycling, foster environmental awareness and encourage good practices for quality, waste-free architecture.

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As well as the award winners, the ceremony was attended by (left to right) Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative; Carmen Sánchez, President of the National Development Agency (ANDE); Beatríz Argimón, Vice-President of the Republic; and Walter Verri, Undersecretary of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM). 

In the entrepreneurship category, the winning initiative was Ecotaller Urusu which employs a circular business model called "Neo Carpintería", a workshop with a team of professionals that manufactures furniture for outdoor use, based exclusively on recycled and national materials. The information gathered on how to work with the materials is being recorded to create a course. Finally, the Ecotaller processes revalued materials and manages its own waste from the workshop responsibly, ensuring that everything is reused or transformed into new products.

In the category of cooperatives and other associations, the winning initiative was Cooperativa Social Unidos por la Clasificación. This cooperative operates in the city of Paysandú, carrying out a "clean circuits" work plan. They identify companies and institutions to develop a process of clean waste management, involving the separation of recyclable material in the places of origin. The cooperative then processes this material and sells it to national companies that process it for recycling. Companies and institutions can get involved through the mobile phone application "Yo Reciclo".

The winner in the communities category was Rosario Clasifica y Recicla. They are a group of volunteers who promote the circular economy by donating the recyclable materials they receive from different parts of the city of Colonia to businesses and organizations that reuse or sell them. In addition, they also disseminate information about recycling, care for the environment and organize community involvement days. They aspire to continue growing and to make the whole process more efficient. At the same time, they seek to spread the idea to other nearby municipalities to join in with similar initiatives.

In the category of educational institutions, the winning initiative was Liceo Verde (“Green Highschool”) - students and teachers from the Highschool of Pan de Azúcar (Maldonado) - which manages organic waste, installing containers to classify it and then vermicomposting with red Californian earthworms that transform it into humus. Afterwards, the humus is used for their vegetable garden. In addition, they are a collection point for eco-bricks in the department of Maldonado. 

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO's Representative in Uruguay, opened the award ceremony by highlighting the Award's effort to promote decentralization from Montevideo and to reach all the country. He also mentioned the relevance of support from large companies to cooperatives and educational institutions and the visibility of women's work that contributes to gender equality. 

Beatriz Argimón, the Vice-President of Uruguay, said it was an honour to participate in the awards ceremony. She highlighted the commitment of Uruguayan society to preserve the environment and the interest in growing economically in a sustainable way. She also stressed the leading role of women in the work of transforming the natural environment.