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Around 60,000 people in the country carry out this work and have been strongly affected by the contingency generated by COVID-19.

Photos: Coca-Cola Chile.

Circula el Plástico and the members of the Chilean Plastics Pact launched the campaign “Recolectando Vida, Reciclaje en tiempos de Pandemia” (Collecting Life, Recycling in Times of Pandemic), an initiative that seeks to encourage safe recycling in the context of the contingency and raise awareness about the work of women and men who are an important part of the plastics life cycle.

This, in addition to the work the Pact is developing from the work tables comprised by the members and collaborators in support of the informal waste recyclers, seeking to strengthen the development of the existing local network and the use of technological tools to reveal their role within society and the recycling chain in Chile.

There are approximately 60,000 individuals in the country (60% women) carrying out the informal waste recycling work, managing domestic and some industrial waste by collecting, separating, gathering, and selling waste (the residues) directly with valuers or intermediaries. In fact, it is estimated that they are responsible for up to 50% of the domestic recycling in some municipalities.

Given the nature of their trade, the contingency caused by COVID-19 has directly affected their income as they face difficulties in selling residues due to the closure of some collection stations such as our local puntos verdes and puntos limpios, two types of community recycling centers. On the other hand, some recyclers and intermediaries have closed their doors altogether or for those residues coming from informal waste recyclers.

Moreover, there is the risk of infection for them and their families and the economic cost they have had to assume to purchase masks, gloves, and chlorine to sanitize the waste and the fact that they often use their own homes as collection centers.

The call is to continue to recycle safely

If recycling is stopped for one month, an additional 50,000 tons of waste material would accumulate, of which approximately 40% is plastic. That is why the call is for all citizens to continue recycling safely from their homes, given the contingency and difficulties that the quarantine generates for this activity.

In case the recycling frequency is reduced from the usual, the recommendation is not to throw it away with the rest of the garbage, but to store it in a clean and orderly fashion until it can once again be recycled. While the containers and packaging remain clean, dry and correctly compressed, they will not smell or become a source of infection or take up large spaces within the household.

Each of the containers that will be recycled must be cleaned properly without using excessive products or water, avoiding organic or liquid residues as this makes recycling difficult. They must be subsequently dried and compressed.

Lastly, if the containers are going to be handed over, it is recommended that they are separated by type of material and sprayed with chlorinated water or alcohol, and above all, that they are not placed next to masks and gloves.

You can check out our Social Networks where we will be giving tips on how to recycle safely from home.