Saturday, April 18, 2009

Community Recycling Ventures

I found a really promising model for how we can work with our ecoRangers in a financially sustainable way. I am not sure how this will translate into the Jordanian context, especially given the presence of scavengers and the informal waste sector who take the most valuable waste, but the concept of recycling and repurposing waste as a form of stable employment for at risk men and youth is pretty promising. Collection on the streets and in neighborhoods is difficult because the informal sector can always outmanuever a bureaucratic program for the valuable waste. They don't take all recyclable waste if it takes a lower price or is bulky, and the informal recyclers don't provide environmental benefit because waste is transported so many times before it arrives at the Material Recovery Facility and the MRF itself is not environmental. At the same time, collection from large accounts is very difficult without large scale equipment, and when you try to manage the entire waste stream it requires a lot of time and resources to organize the waste in the account.
Here is the example from Australia, a partnership between Eaglehawk Recycle Shop and Future Employment Opportunities Inc. Check out the brief description here They are supported by a social venture fund called Social Ventures Australia (

Right now our training is going really well, but at the end of 3 months have to part with guys we would really like to keep working with. The idea is to catalyze some recycling program that recognizes the value of these guys over capital intensive solutions so that they have more employment opportunities.

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