A Better Standard of Living

The catadores (Portuguese for scavengers) are at the heart of informal waste-recycling in Brazil, playing an important role in supplying raw materials used to package Johnson & Johnson products. While they make a living by foraging to collect recyclable material, the catadores also see themselves as providing a service to their communities.

Since 1992, with the support of nonprofit organizations, the catadores have formed cooperatives and are leveraging their shared voice to rise from the margins of society. Johnson & Johnson has initiated Project Phoenix, a unique supply chain sustainability effort targeted at further improving the catadores’ social conditions.

“We’ve helped create a certification process and protocol that will establish clear work standards for the catadores as they improve their lives,” says Mike Maggio, Vice President, Global Strategic Design Operations, Johnson & Johnson.

Maggio explains the process and protocol are modeled on SA8000, one of the preeminent standards on social responsibility, developed by Social Accountability International. “Together with the Global Corporate Consulting group of Delta Consultants, we’ve devised a three-tiered approach that will allow the catadores to move up through various levels and ultimately reach a point that they can improve their process and their lifestyle,” says Maggio. “Ultimately, we’d like to see the catadores achieve SA8000 certification.”

Establishing a certification process to assure decent working conditions along the supply chain for recyclers also reduces risk, mitigating or eliminating potential failures caused by any behaviors or practices that are inconsistent with Our Credo.

“Project Phoenix is an example of the social, environmental and economic impact we can have because of our business and beyond our business,” says Maggio.