Re­cy­cling Waste to Boost In­comes and Op­por­tu­ni­ties

Southern Innovator - - CONTENTS - (sus­tain­ableen­er­gy­forall.org; World Bank Global Geo­ther­mal De­vel­op­ment Plan)

Brazil, a world leader in waste re­cy­cling and green tech­nolo­gies, has pi­o­neered the re­cy­cling of plas­tic bot­tles, alu­minium, steel cans, solid plas­tic waste and glass. And now energy com­pa­nies in Brazil have cre­ated credit schemes that en­cour­age waste re­cy­cling while giv­ing peo­ple real eco­nomic ben­e­fits in re­turn for do­ing the right thing for the en­vi­ron­ment. The first scheme went so well that it quickly inspired oth­ers to repli­cate its pro­gramme in other poor com­mu­ni­ties.

Coelce is a power com­pany in Ceará State in north­east­ern Brazil. The com­pany is en­gaged pri­mar­ily in the dis­tri­bu­tion of elec­tri­cal power for in­dus­trial, ru­ral, com­mer­cial and residential con­sump­tion. In 2007, it set up Ecoelce, a pro­gramme al­low­ing peo­ple to re­cy­cle waste in re­turn for cred­its to­wards their elec­tric­ity bills. The suc­cess of the pro­gramme led to an award from the United Na­tions.

The pro­gramme works like this: peo­ple bring the waste to a cen­tral col­lec­tion place, a blue and red build­ing with clear and bright brand­ing to make it easy to find. In turn, they re­ceive cred­its on a blue elec­tronic card – look­ing like a credit card – car­ry­ing a pic­ture of a child and ar­rows in the fa­mil­iar in­ter­na­tional re­cy­cling cir­cle.

These cred­its are then used to cal­cu­late the amount of dis­count that they should re­ceive on their energy bill. The scheme is flex­i­ble, and peo­ple can also use the cred­its for food or to pay rent. In 2008, af­ter its first year, the scheme had ex­panded to 59 com­mu­ni­ties col­lect­ing 4,522 tonnes of re­cy­clable waste and earn­ing 622,000 reais (US$349,438) in cred­its for 102,000 peo­ple. Peo­ple were re­ceiv­ing an av­er­age of 5 to 6 reais (US$2.80 to US$3.37) ev­ery month to­wards their energy bills. A clear suc­cess lead­ing to an ex­pan­sion of the scheme.

Now in Ceará’s state cap­i­tal, For­taleza – pop­u­la­tion 3.5 mil­lion – there are more than 300,000 peo­ple re­cy­cling a wide range of ma­te­ri­als, from pa­per, glass, plas­tics and met­als to cook­ing oil to get elec­tric­ity dis­counts, ac­cord­ing to the Fi­nan­cial Times. In Viet­nam, the NGO Anh Duong or “Sun Ray” shows school­child­ren how to col­lect plas­tic waste to sell for re­cy­cling. In re­turn, their schools re­ceive im­prove­ments and the stu­dents can win schol­ar­ships. It is es­ti­mated that ru­ral Viet­nam is lit­tered with 100 mil­lion tonnes of waste ev­ery year. Much of it is not picked up.

The pro­ject is op­er­at­ing in 17 com­mu­ni­ties in the Long My and Phung Hiep dis­tricts in south­ern Viet­Nam, mo­bi­liz­ing chil­dren from pri­mary and sec­ondary schools. School chil­dren wear­ing their uni­forms fan out in groups and col­lect the plas­tic waste. The money made from selling the plas­tic waste is be­ing used to im­prove school fa­cil­i­ties and fund schol­ar­ships for poor chil­dren.

In 2010, the pro­ject re­ported that 10,484 kilo­grams of plas­tic waste were col­lected by 26,015 pupils. This pro­vided for 16 schol­ar­ships for school chil­dren.

The Anh Duong NGO was set up by a group of so­cial work­ers with the goal of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. They tar­get the poor­est, bring­ing to­gether the en­tire com­mu­nity, and seek out “low cost and sus­tain­able ac­tions”. The NGO has a mix of spe­cial­ties, from agri­cul­ture to aqua­cul­ture, health, mi­cro­fi­nance and so­cial work. – (Novem­ber 2011)

Global energy de­mand is forecast to grow by 30 per cent from 2010 to 2035. Sus­tain­ably grown biomass could pro­duce four times the world’s global elec­tric­ity needs by 2050. Nearly 40 coun­tries have enough geo­ther­mal energy po­ten­tial to meet a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of their elec­tric­ity needs. Wind energy could pro­vide 9 per cent of the world’s elec­tric­ity needs by 2030.

• coelce.com.br/de­fault.aspx • light.com.br/web/tehome.asp • an­hduonghg.org/en

Im­ages: Wen­dren Set­zer (thewren­de­sign.com).

South Africa’s Wren De­sign is an online store for chic re­cy­cled bags, purses and ac­ces­sories (thewren­de­sign.com).

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