Wood’s long lifespan

Published on Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Wood is a renewable resource that can be used and reused over and over again. We are now collecting waste wood in many of our Group’s power plants and turning it into a resource for local communities that can also help them to acquire new professional skills.

“Wood waste recycling for social purpose” is the name of the circular economy initiative we are using in South America and Africa in order to help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number 8: “decent work and economic growth.” As a result, communities, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and local partners are all now involved in specific programmes designed to create efficient ecosystems.

For example, in the area around Brazil’s Ituverava and Nova Olinda solar photovoltaic farms, which are the largest currently up and running in South America, we organise creative recycling workshops. The local communities turn pallets and spinning wheels into everyday objects such as benches, tables, chairs and storage crates which are then sold, thereby creating a source of sustainable income. These activities are developed in partnership with the Creative Recycling Factory, an Italian design company.

In the Marcona area of Peru, where Enel built the nation’s first and largest wind farm (with 132 MW of installed capacity), we have launched eco-carpentry projects which improve infrastructure and homes in the communities involved. These projects offer people the opportunity to hone their artisanal skills through small businesses. More than 10,000 pallets have been delivered to local bodies that are working with the Caritas (Charity) NGO Peru, the Moquegua Penitentiary Center, the CETPRO (Centro de Educación Técnica Productiva) Santa Fortunata, the Moquegua Carpenters Association and the Clemesì Moquegua Irrigation Association.  

“Social recycling” is a circular economy project that we have launched in Argentina with the aim of recovering raw materials from distribution networks. Thanks to an agreement with Edesur, wood-based materials are donated to the Vivienda Digna Foundation where they are used to make furniture that is sold on at discounted prices to allow economically-disadvantaged families to furnish their homes. Part of the material is also made available for the canteen in a school south of Buenos Aires.

Waste wood from the Bocamina thermal power station (478 MW) in Chile is at the centre of the “eco-muebleria” (eco-furnishing) project currently running in the Coronel area. Here four women trained by Enel and our local strategic partner, the Sembra Association, manage a warehouse where people from the area can purchase furniture made from recycled materials at subsidised prices. In addition to reinforcing women’s role in society, the project also develops eco-technology workshops.

Small carpentry companies in the area around our Adams photovoltaic plant (82.5 MW of installed capacity) in South Africa are also involved in turning pallets from the plant into both decorative homeware items and school furnishings.

Thanks to Enel, sustainability and the circular economy are now a driving force in the economy of each country.