In 2003, a year after the collapse of the Argentine economy between 30,000 and 40,000 people made their living on the streets of Buenos Aires by collecting trash. Three years later, well established cartonero (trash picking) collectives had successfully lobbied the government to legalize their trash collection, enforce curbside source separation to aid recycling, and provide childcare for the collectives. But income for the cartoneros was still dependent on the commodity value of recyclables. At the request of a number of collectives in 2006, a team of engineers from Queens University Ontario began experimenting with plastic bags to create a more reliable source of income for the cartoneros. In 2007 they helped build two “Kingston Presses” in Buenos Aires that bond plastics and fiberous materials to create new composite sheet materials. The presses are currently being tested by the Center for Experimental Production at the University of Buenos Aires.
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