Friday, January 21, 2011

Recycling Paradise

According to one number, the citizens of the city of Sao Paulo produce 17.000 tons of trash every day. Other estimates put the garbage at up to 3.5kg per capita per day, a whopping 40.000 tons.

Regardless of the exact amount, a mere 1% of this gets recycled, compared with 23% in Curitiba. Cities in Germany have a minimum of 35%, most much more.

One would think that there are not enough incentives for this, right? I do not think so. Thousands of people make a living, collecting recyclable waste and bringing this to cooperatives that re-process the material. Usually, these are very poor people that pull their carts, paper and plastic piled high - more fortunate drive around with ramshackle cars and trucks, collecting what they can. And the returns are not so bad. Carton sells for R$0,50, Clear plastic for R$1,00 and Aluminum for up to R$3,00.

Let's do the math. Assuming Sao Paulo could elevate the recyclingquote to 20%, at least 3400 tons per day would be recycled - 1.2m tons per year, at a value of at least 620m BRL.

And while I do this math, Sao Paulo is forced to export trash, as all city landfills are full and the only incinerration plant IN THE COUNTRY is still in construction.

I smell a pretty solid business plan. (no pun intended)

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