Communities in Chile and Recycling Matters

How do nations meet their communities’ needs?

Recycling in Chile has been active in small measures for many years, but it has been during the last ten years that we have seen a growing interest and awareness of recycling.  These changes have been made through educating people about the need for recycling, obtaining government support and the development of recycling programs.

One of the major recycling developments has been the creation of recycling centers.  The increase of technology and use of the web has lead to the ability for citizens to find information on where and how to recycle.  This is has definitely been an essential component in making it easier to locate where you can recycle in Chile and the information on what you can recycle.  The website is one of the best tools to use in finding recycling centers close to you.

Companies are also taking more action with recycling. Motorola has a take back program that is active in Chile to recycle cell phones.  Coca Cola uses glass bottles to sell soda which are recycled for money.  Go Green is call Suma Verde here and is becoming familiar to people as a movement and way of life.  Suma Verde encourages people to be environmentally friendly by riding bicycles and incorporating other environmentally friendly ideas into one’s daily routine.  One idea that is particularly different is building houses or plazas with “ecoladrillo” or “bottle brick” with trash.  The website has more information on this creative solution to recycling.  Bottles are filled with non-biodegradable trash that would normally be thrown into a landfill and packed tight in order to create a different type of brick used for building.  Coke-Cola and other companies are in support of this project and buildings are being constructed with this new type of brick.

What community need did I learn about? 

The collection of trash is different than in the United States. In Chile some people have trashcans to place by the curb for pickup, but most just leave garbage bags by the curb to be picked up.  If you want to recycle plastics you have to take your bottles and containers to a recycling center or collection area, which may be blocks away.  For most busy households, this extra step is inconvenient. This decreases the likelihood that people will take the containers and other items to be recycled.  I think it would be great to see a pick up for recycling similar to what we have in the United States to help encourage people to go green.

Why does the community have this need? 

The Chilean communities need to make recycling a part of each household if they are going to fight the massive amounts of trash being produced and keep their environment clean.  It will cost a lot of money to get something like this started, so that is one of the main issues.  Though there are trashcans located on the public streets, but recycling bins are few and far between.  Grocery stores do not charge for plastic bags, but there are a lot of large, reusable bags sold here for you to carry your food instead of using plastic bags.  People do drink tap water here.  I refill a plastic water bottle from the tap and reuse it all the time in order to save money and recycle.  Every little thing a person can do helps, because if everyone does a little altogether it can have a big impact.  That is why it is important for each of us to do our part.

Is this need being met? How?

Currently each household here does not recycle as it is up to the individual household to commit to recycling.  The communities are increasing education and awareness of the need to recycle and this is helping to meet the needs of recycling.  There is a lot of work to be done, but you can see the beginning of an environmentally-friendly community.  Currently people will collect recyclable material from trash containers on a bicycle or with a truck to take to the recycling center for minimal money.    The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) is contributing a substantial amount of money to help further the cause of recycling.  The Chilean foundation Casa de la Paz and the National Movement of Recyclers of Chile will work together to improve the access waste-pickers or recyclers have to obtaining recyclable material.

DSCN0853More information is available at:

Many of the people here believe that they are doing well in their efforts to recycle, which is true.  There is always room for improvement, but I believe Chile is taking an interest in the environment and working towards improving recycling and environmental issues.  The streets in this community are cleaned and swept at night and all in all it is a beautiful place to live.



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