Photo of Carolina Duque

Energy & sustainability

Carolina Duque

Increasing glass recycling by rewarding the collector of the material and generating new products.

Year Honored


Latin America

Hails From

Every year, 12 million tons of glass are produced in Latin America. This material, reusable and easily recyclable, only ends up having a second life in less than 5% of the total. In addition to being a waste of materials and energy, it also means throwing away money for its economic value. Faced with this illogical situation, the young environmentalist and business analyst Carolina Duque wanted to transform waste into products with a higher market value, focusing on a 100% recyclable product but still the least recycled: glass. The young woman details the magnitude of the problem, "Argentina produces 16 million tons of solid urban waste every year, of which glass is 1.2 million". 

To meet the challenge of usable waste, Duque bet on Reciqlo, a "circular economy company focused on glass that transforms containers into new products for construction, industry and the agricultural sector," working with companies, governments, and citizens, says the young Argentinian. For this breakthrough, Duque has been selected by MIT Technology Review in Spanish as one of the 35 winners of Innovators under 35 Latin America 2022. 

With Reciqlo, Duque seeks to increase the amount of municipal solid waste that is recycled. It does so with communities of recyclers who return the discarded glass to the industry, who are encouraged and trained in long-term recycling habits. The young woman explains, "We create a secondary market for the resale of these materials. By adding value, we ensure that they enter the circular economy and do not end up in landfills." With an app, the recycling process can be traced by obtaining data on the material and its origin. It also builds loyalty among recyclers with a system of redeemable points. By engaging them with the community, the young woman makes it possible to recycle more glass and facilitates waste separation. 

The start-up transforms waste into new products such as glass sand and tiles for construction, new packaging for industry and soil improvers with a silicon substrate for agriculture. Reciqlo teams up with partners to generate items such as sand filters for swimming pools made from recycled glass. In doing so, Duque's creation reduces the environmental impact of glass by reducing raw material extraction from nature, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by returning to the economy what was previously discarded. Duque adds: "Since I was a little girl I wanted to do something about the climate crisis and live more in tune with the environment. With Reciqlo I use technology to create sustainable business models and sustainable development". 

With Argentina as its base of operations and Reciqlo already operating in Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay, Duque hopes that at least half of Argentina's glass will be recycled. In parallel, the young woman is working to expand the model throughout Latin America and to take root in rural areas. With her start-up, Duque adds value to used glass and helps to limit the global rise in temperatures by reducing greenhouse gas emissions needed to manufacture new products.