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How Ecoembes is using recycling and music to reach children at risk of social exclusion

Francesca GarlandIntern at Social Innovation Exchange (SIX)

Founded in 1996, Ecoembes cares for the environment through recycling and the eco-design of packaging in Spain. They make it possible for plastic packaging, cans and cartons and for paper and cardboard packaging to have a second life. 

Since their founding they have prevented the emission of over 15.2 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and recycled 15.3 million tons of packaging - which is the equivalent to 1,164 football stadiums full. This also equates to a savings of 22 million MWh, equivalent to the water consumed in one year by a city of 6.84 million residents. 

In 2014, in Spain alone, they recycled 1.3 million tons of light and packaging and paper and cardboard packaging. This is equivalent of attaining a recycling rate of 73.7%. 

Their activity also generates over 42,600 jobs in Spain. 

The ‘Music of Recycling’ Project 

According to a study, in Spain 1 in 3 children are living below the poverty line and 10% are living in severe poverty, therefore, it isn’t surprising that Spain has the second highest child poverty rate in Europe.

In 2014, Ecoembes launched the ‘Music of Recycling’ project in Madrid, Spain based on the ‘Recycled Orchestra of Cateura,’ in Paraguay, which is a project that makes instruments entirely out of the rubbish from a slum’s landfill. The social project, ‘Music of Recycling’ follows the same model as the orchestra in Cateura and aims to give children who are at risk of social exclusion, a second chance through music.

The project not only promotes respect for the environment through recycling, but it also instills in the children important values.

The project is still in its early stages, nevertheless, it is already sparking notable changes in the lives of the children. 80 people are already receiving music lessons twice a week and this figure will undoubtedly grow, especially when you take into account that 200 children are currently involved in the music school in Cateura.

It is a great opportunity for young people to build on their creativity, as they learn how to produce their own instruments from waste. In the future, they may be selected to be a part of the Ecoembes Recycled Instruments Orchestra, a goal, which motivates them.

As a result of this project, the children are achieving better grades in school, gaining more confidence and forming new friendships. Furthermore, the transformation of waste into musical instruments is instilling in the children a sense of environmentalism.

To learn more about the project, click here.