By including Bogotá’s informal recyclers in the city’s social and economic structure, thousands of people have been granted deserved dignity and the city’s emissions are significantly lowered due to increased recycling.

The Challenge

Historically, waste collection services in Bogotá have not been prioritized and informal waste pickers were valued neither socially nor economically. The city’s Zero Waste program focuses on awarding dignity to the city’s recyclers, which has led to improved collection of reusable materials, increased energy produced at biogas plants, and reduced CO2 emissions.

The Solution

In an effort to lower emissions and improve social justice, Bogotá launched the Zero Waste program in 2012. The program aims to increase recycling and reduce waste sent to landfills, while establishing more equitable conditions for the city’s recyclers, who previously had been excluded from the social and economic structures of the city.

The Zero Waste program is part of the city’s development program, Bogotá Humana, which prioritizes environmental stewardship, with a particular focus on social inclusion. This focus has meant that thousands of recyclers have been given the chance to work under the city’s new waste collection scheme, giving them financial incentives to help increase recycling and providing them with formal recognition by the government. The recyclers’ efforts, along with conscious consumerism and improved residential waste separation, are key components of the city’s strategy to fulfill a goal of reducing waste sent to landfills by 20% by 2016.

Environmental Benefits – A biogas plant located at one of the city’s landfills produces about 39 MW worth of energy .

Social Benefits – The city recyclers are now compensated for their work, and collect about one ton of reusable materials daily.

Economic Benefits – As a result of the Zero Waste program, the price of service collection has been reduced by 15%.

Health Benefits – As part of Bogotá’s social inclusion strategy, 12,000 protection kits are being delivered to the city’s recyclers, allowing them to more safely do their jobs.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Social
Key Impact
The thousands of informal recyclers in Bogotá are now included in the city’s official waste collection, providing them with a hitherto unseen economic compensation and social status while significantly increasing recycling
Emissions Reduction
700,000 tons of CO2 emissions reduced per year
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