The 8.500 tons of trash produced daily in Lima, the capital of Peru, represent almost half of the country's total solid waste production. Unfortunately, only 2% is recycled. Increasing this percentage is a priority for the government, but to achieve this, it is necessary to change the mentality of the citizens, who do not see any incentives to separate the residues and recycle them.
Antonella Romero is a young entrepreneur with extensive experience as advisor for Peru’s Ministry for Innovation and Technology. One day, she decided to put her efforts into solving this civic issue using technology. Thereby EcoTrash was born, a platform that, on the one hand, encourages citizens to recycle and makes it easier for them to do so, and on the other hand, provides a better quality of life to the people who make their living collecting recyclable trash. Her initiative has made her become one of the winners of Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018 of MIT Technology Review.
“There are initiatives [that promote recycling] by NGOs and the Government, but the citizens do not see the benefit, they wonder “but what do I gain?” Romero asks. She remembers that she was spurred to action when she saw a person dumpster diving in search of something profitable. If there are people willing to collect recyclable waste, then it is just about giving citizens an incentive to put them in contact.
That is the fundamental idea of EcoTrash, an online platform that seeks to promote the habit of separating waste in homes and companies through rewards that can be exchanged in businesses assigned to the platform or as donations to charitable causes.
At the same time, this project allows people who collect trash to increase their income. “An informal collector earns around seven dollars per day (less than five euros) on a 12-hour workday looking for waste," Romero explains, and she states that those assigned to her platform earn double the money in half the amount of time.
The founder and CTO of Sourtech, Hernan Roig, jury member of Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018, considers that EcoTrash is a “solid project with both a social and an economic impact that contributes to society in two very important ways: it dignifies the work of the people dedicated to the collection of urban waste and it has a clear environmental impact."