In this orchestra, from Assunción- Paraguay, created in 2012 by the musician and environmental technician, Favio Chávez, music is done with instruments made from recycled materials picked up at the Cateura landfill.

The instruments are created by Favio and by the garbage collector and former carpenter, Don Cola Gomez. The members of the orchestra are children and young people from the community of Cateura, who live in vulnerability and social exclusion conditions.

The success of this orchestra is huge, having played in several countries around the world, and with artists like Stevie Wonder, Metallica and Megadeth.

Target Audience

Children from Asunción, Paraguay who play musical instruments made from scrap materials collected from Asunción’s Cateura landfill / dump.

A music group formed by young people and children who live in the community installed around the Cateura dump, the main and largest dump in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, as well as some young people from other nearby communities, interested in living the experience of forming this Orchestra.


The Orchestra seeks to educate, through music, children and young people who live in the community of Cateura in conditions of vulnerability and social exclusion, creating opportunities in favour of its members, so that they can have options that allow them to project their future towards better living conditions that allow them to forge a better future.

Their motto
The world sends us garbage. We send music back.”

Skills to be improved

  • Social inclusion,
  • Empathy,
  • Practical improvisation skills,
  • Environmental and humanitarian responsibility
  • Responsibility,
  • Creativity,
  • Self-motivation,

Training Team

Not available in the case of the “Recycled Orchestra of Cateura”.

However, taking into account the Spanish initiative “La música del reciclaje” (the music of recycling) led by ECOEMBES – the organization that cares for the environment through recycling and the eco-design of packaging in Spain – based on the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, the project’s training team is composed of qualified professionals with extensive experience in teaching children with special needs.

Description and workplan

Instruments used in the orchestra made of all garbage picked up from landfills in Cateura. This area has been carried garbage of 1500 tons daily. When Favio started teaching music to children, it was very difficult to get the real instruments. Because a real violin is more expensive than a house. At one point, he wold come up to make a musical instrument from the garbage. A skilled craftsman just lived in this district. Favio has created a variety of the miraculous musical instruments with him.

  • Violin: paint cans, aluminum pot, wooden pallets
  • Cello: olive oil cans, tenderizer, wooden pallets
  • Saxophone: water pipes, coins, buttons, keys, tops of the beer bottles, cutlery handles
  • Drums: wooden pallets, radiograph, angles and pins of metal for windows
  • Guitar: wooden pallets, cans for sweets

Children came to be able to learn music with these musical instruments.

In the case of the ECOEMBES initiative the participants of the social project «The Music of Recycling» are children and young people, between 7 and 16 years old, at risk of social exclusion. Currently, three centres and a total of 76 children are participating in the project.

The  training is divided in 2 main sections:

  • Musical training: Participants at each center receive five hours of classes per week. Students are selected according to their skills and preferences for the practice and study of a particular musical instrument. In this way they can learn to play the violin, cello, double bass, flute, saxophone, guitar and percussion. In addition, all of them attend solfege classes, given in a practical way.
  • Lutherie Workshop: On the other hand, several children actively participate in a lutherie workshop, which consists of 10 hours per month, where they learn to make and repair different instruments that are used by the project’s members, in addition to training as stage technicians.

Duration proposed

Taking into consideration some of the experiences replicated in other areas, as it is the Ecoembes initiative “The Music of Recycling” the children attend, two days a week, classes of stringed instruments, wind and percussion. In these classes they learn both musical knowledge (5 hours per week) and how to make their own instruments from recycled materials (10 hours per month).

Promoting Organisation

  • Recycled Orchestra of Cateura:
    • Favio Chávez: Environmental technician, guitarist and clarinetist 
    • Don Cola Gomez: Garbage collector and former carpenter.

Starting Year


Prizes / recognition received

  • Invitations / Visibility: The history of the Orchestra has transcended to the end of 2012 and has called the attention of people all over the world, including recognized figures of music and culture. Since then the group has received invitations to visit and perform in countries such as: Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, United States, Canada, Norway, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Palestine and Japan.
  • Replicability:  Similar musical organizations have been formed in Brazil, Burundi, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Spain.
  • Other recognitions
    • The orchestra has performed internationally with Stevie Wonder and the American heavy-metal bands Metallica and Megadeth. 
    • At the request of the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum) in Phoenix (Arizona, USA) some of the recycled instruments of the Orquesta de Cateura are on display in the permanent exhibition of that museum.

You can follow them on…

Teaser of documentary film "Landfill Harmonic"- Recycled Orchestra of Cateura