The innovation centre at a university in Santiago has launched ReciclApp, an app which connects local authorities and businesses with rubbish collectors who pick up their waste for recycling. The collectors have more than doubled their salaries, and local authorities are now paying the app to operate in their towns
Results & Impact
RecicIApp now averages around 200 collections every day, and has 1,000 users across several cities in Chile. The collectors' earning have more than doubled, on average. Local authorities are now paying the app to operate in their towns
ReciclApp, local authorities in several cities across Chile and Bolivia, including Santiago and La Paz
ReciclApp users add the amounts of their waste they would like to see recycled and chose both a date and a time period for collection. The company then creates and prints routes for the city’s collectors to help them collect the rubbish. The waste is sold to recycling companies
Cost & Value
Running since August 2016
The app's founder initially discovered it was difficult to persuade rubbish collectors and recycling firms to do something they'd never done before, and work with an app. He convinced them by demonstrating how they would gain financially
The app has now expanded into Bolivia, and there are advanced plans to move into Mexico as well
A 24-year-old entrepreneur has taken on the blight of local waste in Chile and launched an app to connect local authorities, business and collectors for recycling. One by-product of his innovation has seen Santiago’s collectors double their wages.
ReciclApp was launched in August 2016 by Cristian Lara, who has put his civil engineering degree on hold to devote his time exclusively to the app. It works when individuals, businesses and public institutions download the app – once they have bottles, can or boxes they would like to see recycled, they can add the amounts of each waste type to their accounts in the app, and chose both a date and a time period for collection. The company then creates and prints routes for the city’s collectors. RecicIApp now averages around 200 collections every day, and has 1,000 users across Chile. Lara describes it as the “Uber of recycling”.
For the city’s collectors, RecicIApp has overturned their traditional model of earning money, where they walked on foot around neighbourhoods for hours on end, hoping to find rubbish to collect. With the app, they are guaranteed recyclable material, and they keep all the money they make.
“I was shocked when I found out how many people earned money from picking up rubbish,” said Lara. “I was even more surprised when I found out some of these men and women had been doing this for decades. I thought there was an obvious solution that was possible.”
There are around 100,000 people trying to earn money from recycling in Chile. Those that work with ReciclApp have seen their wages double on average from about $100 per month to $250. RecicIApp has cut out the middle men who traditionally transport the material to large recycling plants. The collectors can now leave their material at storage centres used by ReciclApp until trucks from the recycling company turns up.
While Chile is the wealthiest country in Latin America, the country has no recycling programs run by local authorities. Chile also produces around 17 million tonnes of rubbish every year and recycles only around 10 percent of it. For comparison, the recycling figure in Canada is 48% and around 35-45% in the US.
ReciclApp recently won a contract with the local authority of Santiago, which has a population of six million. It allows them to work in all the city’s municipalities and outlying regions. Local governments typically pay the app around $1,200 per month. Similar agreements are in place with a number of other cities in Chile.
ReciclApp is next considering directly hiring waste collectors, to offer them a monthly wage, a daily schedule and extra income based on incentivised goals. An upcoming new recycling law should also make it easier for companies like ReciclApp to expand: the government plans to double the number of the country’s sanitary landfills by 2020. ReciclApp has recently expanded into Bolivia and is in advance stages of announcing an expansion into Mexico.
ReciclApp was helped in its launch by a new innovation centre at Santiago’s Catholic University.
Photo: Flickr/ John Seb Barber