By: Anna Illarionova | at Enel | July 10th, 2018

Operating in a constantly changing world and in a vast geographical area where global phenomena come face-to-face with very different cultures and socio-economic contexts becomes one of the main challenges that multinational groups as Enel have to face. Constant dialogue with communities, inclusive involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises and partners in an efficient ecosystem allow Enel to launch projects and solutions that respond to shared priorities, foster local development and create sustainable long-term shared value. The initiative called “wood waste recycling for social purposes” is an example of scalable, innovative and circular economy project that engages local stakeholders in different countries and is applicable for different business lines within the company ranging from  renewable energy generation, infrastructure and networks and thermal generation.

In 2017, Enel launched two solar photovoltaic plants in Brazil - Ituverava and Nova Olinda – the largest parks currently operating in South America. Based on materiality assessment of the business priorities and needs of local communities that live in nearby towns, Enel developed different initiatives in the area, including creative recycling workshops in collaboration with Creative Recycling Factory, an Italian design factory, to produce furniture and commonly used objects taken from the site construction materials such as pallets and reels.

In the state of Coahuila, Mexico Enel developed the Wood Seeds program for the members of the Viesca community. The pilot project aims at recycling the wood waste generated during the construction of the Villanueva photovoltaic solar plant . To arrange this, Enel launched a training program of over 5,700 hours with a significant support from local contractor companies so that 25 community members could become artisan carpenters. Workshop  participants learn how to convert rough pieces of wood that were previously considered as waste into roofs for commercial and public areas, dining rooms, tables, entertainment centers and bedroom furniture.

In Peru Enel started construction of Wayra I , the country’s first and  largest wind farm, located in the district of Marcona, Ica region with an installed capacity of 132 MW. Sharing the vision, strategies and principles of the CSV model for designing, engineering and construction activities, Enel organized dedicated workshops for local stakeholders to better understand their needs and create deep synergy with the company’s activities. As a result, the local community members are currently engaged in eco-carpentry projects that improve community infrastructures and housing by upcycling waste wood materials from the construction site (over 10,000 pallets delivered to local institutions) as well as strengthening their skills in carpentry and running small enterprises. The project is carried out in partnership with Caritas NGO Peru, Moquegua Penitentiary Center, CETPRO Santa Fortunata, Carpenters Association of Moquegua and Irrigation Association Clemesí Moquegua.

In South Africa, the wooden pallets from the Adams photovoltaic plant site (Northern Cape) have become home decoration and furniture for local schools. Enel developed a specific project together with the local municipality, contractors, direct involvement of community and small carpentry companies in the area. On top of the 82.5 MW of installed capacity of clean energy from its power plant, the local South African population also befitted from another type of capacity developing creativity, better employment opportunities and fostering growth of local businesses.

In Argentina, a circular economy initiative called “Social Recycling”  focuses on re-claiming raw materials from distribution network’s maintenance activities. Wooden materials (such as cable reels, pallets, etc.) are supplied to a local association that builds furniture. The furniture is sold at discounted prices allowing low-income families to purchase it. Moreover, it allowed to equip a school canteen in the south of Buenos Aires thanks to a specific agreement, creating a comfortable environment for students, most of whom come from foreign families and/or families with financial difficulties. The project enables the inclusion and integration of vulnerable people by creating new jobs and developing specific technical skills.

In Chile the “Eco-muebleria” (eco-furniture) project helped organize a furniture store where the local population can buy wooden chairs, benches and other goods at affordable prices that are produced from wooden waste materials of the Bocamina thermal power plant (478 MW) in the Coronel area. Four women trained by Enel and the Sembra Association, a strategic local partner, manage the store and the eco-technological workshop. This project significantly contributes to women’s empowerment and development of leadership skills among local population.

Looking constantly and proactively at the society’s needs helps Enel to take up new challenges and build competitive business models, developing new strategies and innovating in processes, and successfully scaling the solutions adopted in the countries where Enel operates, taking into account the local context and peculiarities of each region.


Raising operating efficiency thanks to proper waste management, waste reduction and giving new life to waste materials, contributing to the UN SDGs commitment (decent work and economic growth and quality education), better integration with the local communities and reinforcing relations with stakeholders.


Promotion of employment and inclusive, sustainable and lasting economic growth in the territory, support to local SMEs and building self-sustained business models, mitigation of the environmental impact, capacity building for local community, women empowerment and leadership.

Learn more about Enel's Circular Economy & Social Economic Development Projects