top of page

The global society comes together to recycle

Global Goals & Global Society
The global society comes together to recycle

Santiago de Chile - The town of La Pintana is an example of a sustainable community that seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by recycling in Chile — a country that produces the most waste in the region but recycles only a small portion of it, and beyond. Trucks have been collecting organic waste from the locals in the poorest of the municipalities on the outskirts of Santiago for many years.

The peels of potatoes, avocados, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables have been gathered every day for 17 years after being thrown into bins, cardboard boxes, or even plastic bags, and then hanged on doors or trees.Organic waste represents half of the total waste produced by each family in this city of nearly 190,000 inhabitants, of which a little more than 15% live in poverty, the highest rate in the Chilean capital and its suburbs.

In addition to having a municipal nursery constructed on top of a former landfill, La Pintana, one of the first municipalities in Santiago to organize such a collection, also has one. Every year, 100,000 plants from 400 different kinds are provided by the nursery, which is then used to green the city.

Escarlett Isler, a city employee, spoke from the step on the back of the collection truck, saying, "For me, it's very essential that the city has adopted this environmental management program and inspired residents to sort their waste.

José Vera, the proprietor of a small vegetable shop, says after removing two sizable boxes filled with organic waste from his building and placing them on the street, "There has been a change in people; they now care about recycling and don't toss produce in the garbage anymore.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, the municipal initiative was successful in fostering a culture of recycling in a nation that, on average, produces 1.13 kg of waste per person each day and recycles only 0.8% of it.

The dump trucks return to the Directorate General of the Environment (DIGA) headquarters to deposit their cargo after the collection is finished. The trash is sorted roughly in the dumpster before being loaded into wheelbarrows and transported to a composting area, where earthworms compost it.

"We gain money and delight from our job. With the gardens, the municipality is getting better "enthuses Jeannette Gonzalez, a municipal worker who plants flowers in a street close to a sports facility.

A virtuous circle

According to the World Bank, Chile is the Latin American nation with the highest garbage production, yet the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reports that Chile's recycling rate is significantly below the Latin American average of 4%. (ECLAC).

The municipality of La Pintana recycles about 20 tons of organic trash every day and saves nearly $100,000 annually as a result of this operation, which it then invests back into the neighborhood.

"In the municipality where we took over control, there was a dump every 200 meters. Today, we no longer observe that "Claudia Pizarro, the city's mayor, emphasizes that her city has won numerous international prizes for this initiative.

People stop dumping rubbish there when they notice that there is vegetation and blossoming where there used to be a landfill, she continues.

Yet at La Pintana, more than half of the 15 or so staff at the municipal nursery are prisoners who have exchanged prison for community service. This means that organic waste isn't the only thing getting a second chance there.

"They benefit from everything that is generated here as well because they are community members' children. It makes them feel like they belong, "Cintia Ortiz, who has managed the building for over seven years, adds.

Maisa Rojas, Chile's Minister of the Environment, recently announced a measure to follow La Pintana's lead throughout the country.

Recycling means that fewer resources are needed, but it also saves a lot of energy - which also protects the climate. Natural organic waste, properly recycled, can become fertilizer and soil and thus provide new life again and again according to the closed-loop principle.

This example of La Pintana shows the great impact it can have when all people united into a global society pursue a common goal.


bottom of page