Circular Action presents solutions to waste collection in two global circularity events

“It is time to increase collection in a socially inclusive way.” – Thierry Sanders

Last week, the Circular Action team, Director Thierry Sanders and Circular Economy specialist, Maria Accioly, flew to participate in two brilliant circularity events taking place in Berlin, Germany, and in Quito, Ecuador, run by PREVENT Waste Alliance and Sustainable Challenge LATAM. They showcased how Circular Action Programmes (CAPs) can help companies and countries without Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR) regulations achieve their waste collection targets together.

Circular Solutions Festival in Berlin

On Monday 12 September, the first day of the Circular Solutions Festival in Berlin, Thierry Sanders shared the stage with Circular Economy specialist Alessa Araiza to present the completion of the pilot project ‘Bahia Circular’, implemented by BVRio and PREVENT Waste Alliance in San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico. They gave examples of inclusive recycling networks and financial mechanisms to enable traceability in the waste value chain in developing countries.

Thierry explained how companies can finance CAPs to issue independently certified circular credits to incentivise waste collection through performance-based payments to pickers, who are already working to provide this environmental service. The KOLEKT app manages the operation allowing the negotiation, monitoring and traceability of multi-material waste flow. Thierry was asked how appropriate an app is for informal pickers; he stressed that KOLEKT was designed with inclusion in mind to allow every picker to participate without necessarily owning a mobile phone. Learn more.

In response to a great audience question about how this solution to waste collection ensures additionality, Thierry confirmed that the focus has been on harder-to-recycle materials. He gave the example of the ongoing Circular Action Programme in Vietnam in partnership with Tetra Pak which is contributing to waste collection of carton beverage packaging deemed hard to recycle and which has had no value for pickers. Learn more.

Sustainable Challenge LATAM in Quito

On Thursday, 15 September, Thierry gave a presentation on how to increase waste collection rates in a more socially inclusive manner. He commented, “We need to scale up waste collection with better regulations, such as EPR, and engage with consumer goods companies to face this challenge by helping the poor who are doing the most of the waste collection today.”

The 11 million waste pickers working worldwide are responsible for 60% of global recyclable waste collection, equivalent to 1 picker / 300 citizens collecting 1 tonne of waste per month to earn 60% of the minimum wage in these countries (Source: 2020 PEW / Systemiq “Breaking the Plastic Wave”).

Concluding that EPR is the most successful legislation worldwide to improve waste collection, Thierry stressed, “It’s not the consumers who will solve the collection problems, it’s a group of stakeholders of the government and of the producing companies that need to come together and find a solution for implementing an EPR.”

BVRio and Circular Action work together with local waste management stakeholders and waste pickers to increase their income by adding value to the collection of packaging waste. Pickers receive direct payment incentives for every kilo they collect, each counting as points on the KOLEKT app, which then authorises them to cash out the points in local authorised cashiers.

Maria Accioly attended the Sustainable Challenge LATAM in Quito and connected with other circular economy leaders. She said, “It was a high-quality event which achieved what it set out to do: to promote numerous links between different entities to facilitate the implementation of projects in Latin America.”