Underemployed people are paid to gather and transport waste to recycling facilities
Spotted: A mid-2023 drop in price for recycled PET plastics affected thousands of Brazil’s informal workers as well as many of the country’s recyclers. To help slow the influx of cheaper virgin materials, Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Trade raised the import tax on waste paper, glass, and plastic to 18 per cent. For recycling technology company Green Mining, the situation reiterated the need for its solution of formally paying waste pickers and creating traceable recycling chains.
Using Intelligent Reverse Logistics to track waste and its recycling, the company hires workers who complete a recycling course run by the city of São Paulo’s Municipal Authority for Urban Cleaning. Green Mining maps waste flows in neighbourhoods throughout Brasilia and São Paulo to determine the best locations for collection points. Once established, collectors use tricycles to haul waste and travel between recycling hubs on their assigned routes.
After a hub is filled, the gathered waste is weighed. The weight and type of waste collected are recorded through blockchain technology, and Green Mining then sends the material to the correct recycling facility instead of landfill. Companies participating in the programme record the volume of their own waste and whether it is glass, paper, or plastic. As more organisations take part, a greater understanding of the true amount of waste and recycling is built, and with data recorded via distributed ledger technology, traceability becomes a central part of the city’s waste management system.
Green Mining currently operates 14 hubs throughout the two cities of Brasilia and São Paulo. Consumers and organisations can search by type of waste they want to dispose of in order to find the nearest recycling point.
The volume of plastic waste is so great, and ongoing, that innovations working to reuse these materials and clean the environment have also proliferated. Examples in Springwise’s database include a new method for harvesting hydrogen and graphene from waste plastic and a system for recycling single-use laboratory plastics.
Written By: Keely Khoury