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Coop Les Valoristes is a non-profit social enterprise, created in 2012, in Montreal. Our mission is to encourage and support the Valoristes in their recovery of refundable, recyclable and reusable materials, involving them by practising an inclusive and participatory approach, as well as promoting the recognition of the important contribution they make.
[Ken Lyotier, Ph.D. honoris causa, founder of United We Can, British-Colombia]
The Coop Les Valoristes puts into the spotlight people collecting refundable containers in the streets of Montreal. They are an essential social link to a green and sustainable economy.
[Jutta Gutberlet, Ph.D, University of Victoria, British-Colombia and director of the Participatory Sustainable Waste Management program ]
The recently created Les Valoristes Coopérative De Solidarité, in Montreal is a very particular and extremely interesting example of cooperative development. This initiative contributes towards social inclusion, poverty reduction, economic redistribution, and environmental health, by recovering recyclable materials (primarily cans and bottles) and redirecting them to the bottle industry hence reducing the need for the extraction of new primary resources.
2015 – temporary bottle depot project: more then 700 000 refundables collected in 82 days
For several years, debates about a reform of Quebec’s refundable beverage deposit system has been in the forefront of discussions and several scenarios were put on the table: abolition, rising costs, enlargement, etc. However, in these discussions, rare were the occasions where the social elements related to the reduction of poverty were mentioned. This fact was a trigger for the valoriste team. Our group has mobilized to argue that a major player had been forgotten in the debate: people (often on the margins of society) that derive a significant portion of their income by picking up and redeeming refundable containers: the valoristes. We have moved our thinking further and decided to act.
Around the world, there are people who live out of other people’s waste, either by reusing or selling them. These people are called “valoristes” because they give value to articles that others see as waste. In Brazil, there are many cooperatives of valoristes (catadores), who have regrouped their members and set up appropriate infrastructure to better represent their realities and get them better prices for the materials they collect. In Canada, the social enterprise United We Can uses its bottle depot to refund beverage containers and to create more than one hundred jobs. We were inspired by these two examples to create our own recycling cooperative in Montreal, the first in Quebec.
Often, valoristes are people who live on the margins of society and suffer prejudice from others. It might not be easy for a homeless person to go to the store to get money back from a dozen bottles or cans. By providing a safe and clean place where they can come and bring collected material without being judged, we encourage more recycling as well as foster a more respectful and fair society.