28 APRIL, 2022

Professional waste pickers are at the heart of circular economy

“Just like farmers and ranchers, professional waste pickers provide the raw materials in a chain that is vital to the economy not only of the country, but of the world”. Ricardo Estrada, Vice President of Sustainability and Purchasing, Plastilene Group. 

Practice makes perfect

Although circular economy of plastics is something new as a concept, waste pickers have been working for more than 40 years in its first stage: collecting usable materials to be transformed into new products.

It is a trade that as a society we have not been able to recognize and without it materials recovery would not be kept, but with years of study and practice we are giving it the value and the necessary tools it deserves to professionalize it more and more. We have even included in our sustainable innovation strategy a program to strengthen them as the main suppliers of the new post-consumer plant.

“I consider that we have become experts in the subject of plastic, especially in the time we have been working with Reciclene, and it is satisfying to see the result and to have the opportunity to be here (in the new post-consumer plant), getting to know this process in more depth”. Leader of the waste pickers’ association Asogreen.

The responsibility for recycling does not belong to just one actor in the chain; it is shared.

It all starts with the production and consumption of a container or packaging with a high level of utilization; then the ordinary citizen separates at home by waste type (organic, recyclable and non-recyclable); then the recycler classifies and collects recyclables by material type, in the case of plastics by families; finally, it reaches the transformers such as Reciclene that buy the recyclable material and convert it into quality recycled raw material, thus returning to the cycle.

If something goes wrong, the loss is passed from actor to actor until it ends up in the landfill, in the ecosystems or seriously impacting the waste pickers and the team of transformers.

It also happens the other way around, if the packaging keeps its value during the whole life cycle, in the transformation stage it can be a product of the same or superior application (upcycling).

Today more than ever, Plastilene Group wants to recognize the work of waste pickers, the professionalization that they have given to their job. We know that we have a long way to go, that we have a lot to improve, to contribute and to continue growing, but we are on the way and with the new post-consumer plant we will give value to materials that before were only waste.

The waste pickers, the planet and the economy win.