Triciclos is changing the industry of recycling management by working with partners from government and business, generating incentives and strategies tailored to each of them.
Geographic Area of Impact: Chile
Model: Social business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: N/A
Annual Budget: USD $1.95 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 94% (2013)
The Social Problem
Chile produces 6.5 million tons of garbage per year. Unfortunately, only 15% of this is currently recycled. It is difficult to change an easy-to-use system in which individuals throw everything in a black bag that is picked up at night. Even for those who have decided to recycle, significant challenges often prevent them from doing so: the majority of Chile’s recycling plants are located in the metropolitan region of Santiago, many of sites that accept recyclables mix all of the waste together, and often garbage trucks mix recyclables in plain view of the individuals who just made the effort to separate them. All of these factors encourage users to disassociate themselves from the waste they generate, reinforcing wasteful practices and behaviours that are not environmentally sustainable. As in many places, in South America, waste is closely related to poverty.
Innovation and Activities
Triciclos is making it easier for the public to start recycling by creating a series of convenient Clean Collection Points (CCP) where both businesses and ordinary people can drop off their garbage, learn about sustainable habits and see how materials are separated by the staff of TriCiclos. Triciclos also works to replace the financial incentives scheme currently encouraging more waste and garbage by developing relationships with municipalities and other sectors of the government. These CCP are mostly run by street waste pickers that see their role as environmental monitors.
TriCiclos has as a mantra “Waste is an error of design”, in order to encourage businesses and institutions to embrace the role of co-designer of a new sustainability culture, Triciclos shares a percentage of the profits coming from the sale of recycled materials with them, as credit toward the initial cost of purchase and on-going maintenance. The result is that the more these actors recycle, the more they earn. And the more they engage the public through awareness-raising campaigns, the more their share increases. In addition, beyond the immediate financial reward, businesses benefit from a positive reputation for being “green” and “sustainable.”
The combination of awareness-raising and the provision of accessible recycling points is effectively working towards closing the gap between merely understanding the problem and taking action. Triciclos is currently running 64 Clean Collection Points in Chile and commencing operations in Brasil and Argentina, which receive more than 47.000 visits every month. Since their inception, Triciclos has recycled over 5.490 metric tons of waste.
In 2012 TriCiclos became the first certified Bcorp in South America, and through that model has permanently achieved best practices in many fields.
Between 2000 and 2009 Gonzalo reinvented and ran businesses in Chile and Argentina. He succeeded by developing new products, attracting new clients, and rethinking their business models. Having seen the waste generated by private sector businesses, Gonzalo knew he could offer a transformative service that would help the environment while also being financially sustainable. Using his business and entrepreneurial skills, he redirected his efforts toward his ideals and passion for sustainability and the environment, and launched Triciclos, and moved to Brasil in order to initiate the international expansion of the company.
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