Business

These entrepreneurs tell you what, how much, how and where to recycle

Ecolana is the first digital map to recycle in Mexico, it allows you to select graphically the collection points closest to you and indicates the type of waste they receive.

6 min read

The opinions expressed by employees are personal.

These entrepreneurs tell you what, how much, how and where to recycle
These entrepreneurs tell you what, how much, how and where to recycle

As soon as someone decides to take responsibility for their garbage and start separating to recycle, once they have separate plastic bottles and cartons, the next question is where do I take them? To solve this situation Lisseth Cordero and Alejandra Valdez created in 2016, a digital platform for consumers to know easily and practically the places where they receive their recyclable waste.

Lisseth tells me that to begin with they made a database to identify the collection centers and then visited them to determine the materials they received. Initially, the people who managed these places were quite suspicious and reluctant, which was a challenge for them, since they had based their business model on charging the collection centers for being on the digital map.

So they had to identify another type of customer and met with the interest of the big brands that, due to the plastic crisis, are looking to develop campaigns to recycle the waste they generate. Corporations must meet very specific global goals, but on many occasions they do not know how to do it. So Ecolana began offering them a consulting scheme to guide them, design their recycling programs, build the strategy and connect them with the key players in the sector. In this way, they have been working with,,, Walmart, Nestlé, among others; supporting them directly to meet their goals of recycling large volumes. They also support with, promoting recycling in some municipalities of Mexico City, where they work with advertising and collection companies.

An updated and interactive database

Lisseth explains that this strategy has allowed them to generate a digital recycling map that is interactive, since it is the users who provide the address of the collection points, the materials they receive and a contact telephone number. With this information Ecolana checks the data, ensures that they are reliable and uploads them to the website. This has led to the database continuing to grow and contain up-to-date, reliable and close information.

The page that receives more than 12,000 visits per month, also offers one so that we can identify the different materials that are recyclable in a classification of 26 types of waste, with its distinctive logo: batteries, pet, metals, electronics, medicines, etc.

They are also very active in social networks, with short messages and graphics that are easy to understand. Lisseth considers that recycling in many occasions is a task that involves dedicating time and effort, in addition to changing habits is not simple, so you should talk in a colloquial way so that users understand that it can be easy and not a nuisance.

Are you ready We explain how to start

I asked Lisseth to explain the basic steps that a person must follow to recycle and explained that the first thing is to separate into three groups: the organic ones, which is all that is spoiled, such as food scraps or things that they expired, and this can become compost. Then separate the non-recycling sanitary waste that is waste such as: toilet paper, female towels and Kleenex, and that this goes to a separate garbage. This also greatly facilitates and dignifies the work of the people who are responsible for collecting the garbage. Finally, separate the inorganic between what can be recycled and what is not:

  1. Plastics: they are divided in that they are identified with a triangle and a number. Where are the most recyclable as type 1 (PET): plastic bottles of various colors, 2 (HDPE): resistant containers such as shampoos, creams, yogurts. As well as those that are practically not received as the 6 (PS): unicel, glasses and plastic plates; or the 7 that are plastics combined with other elements.
  2. Fibers: cardboard, paper, cookie or cereal boxes, newsprint and magazines, including Tetrapak which is 75% cardboard fiber and allows its components to be separated.
  3. Glass: above all food bottles and bottles are received. Cosmetic containers, ceramics, and flat glass are not recycled.
  4. Metals: it is divided into aluminum, cans and scrap metal. For example, cans of tuna, beans, milk.
  5. Special handling: medicines, electronics, cables, bulbs, tires and batteries. If possible, avoid throwing them away because they can mean a public health problem in the landfills.

Once the garbage is separated, the next step is to find the collection site, when entering the Ecolana page, you can find the places distributed by city halls in the case of Mexico City, and also the information of other cities of the country in where you have classification.

Due to the work that Ecolana is doing to raise awareness in all sectors, in February of this year they received the award in the waste challenge for designing a system involving several actors. Also in November they received the first place in the category of Environment during the Innovation organized by Fundación Azteca.

The main objective for Lisseth is that Ecolana be the benchmark of recycling in Mexico and that they can provide a map of recycling collection centers covering the entire country. He adds that the task of separating the garbage is essential, because it helps us to realize all the waste we generate and the type of materials we dispose of. In addition, it empowers us as consumers that we choose and that we can demand so that brands develop alternative products that allow their recovery and take us to one where each time is used more and less wasted.

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