United World Project


Bella Vela Cooperative, towards a circular economy

6 July 2024   |   Uruguay, Circular economy,
By Red EcoOne (Cono Sud)

“The greatest strength of our cooperative is the team of people that we have built, trying to “be a family” and relying on the principles of cooperativism,” say the members of Bella Vela, an Uruguayan reality awarded for their good practices and attention to the environment.

The Bella Vela cooperative was born in the month of July 2012 in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, with a team of five people who initially produced and sold candles. The wise management of the resources allowed the cooperative to expand production, starting a real and true ecological company that today produces recycled leather sheets made from tannery waste and intended for the footwear industry. The working process respects all the requisites to be eco-sustainable, not only because it reuses waste but also because the water used in the production process is recycled.

In time, the number of members of the cooperative multiplied, and today the team is made up of ten people. And the intention is to keep growing: they have a new project in mind that has the goal of further exploring the aspect of the circular economy, always pointing towards the cure of the planet and generating new job positions.

In the first months of 2023, they programmed to move to what is known as the first Polo of Circular Economy in Uruguay, where they will be able to increase their production. “Being a small company, at the moment we can only treat around four tons of waste per month,” explains the cooperative. “Our goal is to double this number,” they say, projecting towards their future at the pole.

In 2022, Bella Vela presented to the German-Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce a proposal that entered the competition with other 25 projects, out of which most were presented by big companies and multinationals, and it resulted among the three winners. The prize was a trip to Germany, to visit some of the key sites of the circular economy. “This experience has served to encourage us to continue learning. We also met a company that does what we do but on a larger scale, dealing with much larger volumes,” they recall.

The Bella Vela cooperative received the Circular Economy prize from the PAGE Uruguay program, from the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mines, in collaboration with the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development, the National Agency of Development, and the National Agency of Research and Development. They were also given recognition by the business organization DERES for their good practices, which contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The greatest strength of our cooperation—say, the members—is the team of people that we have built, trying to “be a family” and relying on the principles of cooperativism. We grow slowly, having the cure of the planet always at heart. We believe that the secret to facing difficult moments is moving forward together.”