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Circular and Social Economy




The situation of natural resources urges a radical change in the linear model of production-consumption-disposal towards the circular economy. At the same time, more than a quarter of the population in Spain is at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and the health crisis has triggered unemployment, inequality and poverty among the most vulnerable population. In today's global society, societal challenges are highly interrelated and initiatives to address them must have a holistic approach. In particular, the circular economy is a key option for providing job opportunities while tackling waste management.

The Circular and Social Economy research line studies the organization of entities that promote circular economy models of basic needs products that they distribute to the vulnerable population (clothing, food, etc.). At the same time, they employ workers at risk of social exclusion and promote social inclusion by creating job opportunities and providing training. The general objective of the research proposed here is to promote labor integration and reduce waste within the framework of the circular economy. Therefore, specific models are needed to maximize the global problem: higher quality training and greater reuse of the basic products.

The distribution process of these entities involves: collection of products, production (treatment and reconditioning), allocation to beneficiaries and distribution. This is a very complex combinatorial problem that includes: planning production according to needs and assigning tasks to workers with different skills. At the same time, comprehensive and personalized training itineraries are developed for employees, considering particular abilities, needs or limitations, with the aim of promoting their future socio-labor integration in the most balanced, effective and positive way. In addition, although no profit is sought, the entire process must be economically sustainable in order to continue with social action.

This research is being carried out in collaboration with two entities:

Formació i Treball: The Formació i Treball Foundation aims to train and employ people at risk of social exclusion and manage the delivery of clothing, furniture and other household equipment to vulnerable families derived from the different Social Services of Barcelona.

El Rebost, Terrassa Food Social Distribution Center: El Rebost is a project that brings together the work of the main entities that distribute food to vulnerable families in the city of Terrassa. Its objective is to improve logistics and coordination, thus reaching more people, and doing so at the same time with higher quality care. Food is received mainly from European Funds, the Banc dels Aliments and donations from nearby supermarkets. To gather more information on our work with el rebost, please visit this video (only in Catalan)