Accustomed to long hours of work on the street or in garbage dumps to collect some plastic, paper, cardboard or glass to sell, recyclers in Ecuador are exhibiting a keen business vision to develop ventures that increase their income and allow them to professionalize their activity.
Waste collection and transportation services, training on waste separation and classification, sweeping of public spaces and care of green areas are some of the initiatives of the National Network of Recyclers of Ecuador (Renarec). It is offered to broaden your horizons, in a country where it is estimated that some 20,000 people are dedicated to recycling.
Renarec launched -almost two years ago- its business unit. This organization brings together some 1,500 recyclers from 50 associations throughout the country. It has been seen that recycling can be profitable, raised in the right way.
“In these two years they have already exceeded the break-even point and have profits.” Says Felipe Toledo, programmatic manager of the Avina Foundation. For 15 years, he has supported Renarec in strengthening Ecuador’s recyclers through associativity and business models.
“These are enterprises led above all by women. Of the people dedicated to recycling in Ecuador, between 60% and 70% are women”, Toledo points out about Renarec. The board is made up mostly of women, with the leader Juana Iza as president.
They have signed agreements with some companies for waste collection. In some cases they are donated for later treatment and sale to a collection center. Or directly to the industry that buys these materials to give them a new life.
The profits are distributed among the associations that have been part of the waste recovery process, and a part is keeping the business growing, to the point that they are already thinking of buying their second truck and then setting up their own recycling center gathering.
They also aim to extend the services of the business unit on a national scale, since up to now they are operating in Quito and Machachi. Thus, Renarec has managed to get its members to earn an average of USD 218 per month, compared to USD 188 for recyclers who do not belong to this organization.
However, this still barely represents 50% of a fixed unified basic salary (SBU), which is why Renarec is also exerting political pressure with the Government and the National Assembly so that the municipalities, which have waste management, recognize their work financially.
This is payment for service, a mechanism for municipalities to pay recyclers an amount equivalent to the cost of solid waste management companies processing each ton of waste.