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Program to bring collectors of recyclable materials into the formal market is launched with $8.4 million

AVINA, MIF, the IDB’s Water and Sanitation Division, and The Coca-Cola Company, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launch the first Latin American program to integrate waste collectors into the formal recycling market

ASUNCION, Paraguay – The Fundación Avina, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the IDB Group, the Water and Sanitation Division of the IDB, and The Coca-Cola Company, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today launched a regional program to integrate informal waste collectors into the formal recycling market.

The initiative brings together recyclers, consumer products companies, municipalities, educational institutions, and civil society organizations to discuss proposals and develop action plans for incorporating informal workers into local value chains. The program will make use of lessons learned from projects underway in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and other developing countries, and provide these experiences as models for stakeholders.

It is estimated that more than four million people in Latin America live on income earned from the collection of recyclable waste materials. These people, including entire families, work in unhealthy conditions with materials that may pose risks to health.

"It is critical to support the transformation of the market and the organization of informal recyclers to improve their economic and social situation,” said Nancy Lee, MIF General Manager. “Greater coordination among recyclers, businesses and municipalities will improve the quality of life of people engaged in this business."

The program seeks to improve the socio-economic status of waste collectors, involve the private sector as an active partner in facilitating their access to the formal market, and improve the regulatory framework to facilitate market functions."Despite their key role in a new market such as recycling, informal waste collectors and their families remain isolated from society and the economy,” said Valdemar de Oliveira Neto, Fundación AVINA’s Director of Continental Initiatives. “This project will enable us to bring together all stakeholders to create an environment that respects their work, demonstrating that it is not only honorable, but also valuable to society.”

“The experience of the past 20 years in the region has shown the need for including the informal sector as an integral part of the formal system of municipal waste management in a process led by municipalities themselves and as a means for achieving economic sustainability of such activities,” said Federico Basañes, Chief of the IDB’s Water and Sanitation Division. “The pursuit of such integration is one of the main objectives of thepresent initiative.”

"This program provides us with the opportunity to contribute to the development of sustainable communities in two areas of particular relevance: social and economic inclusion of people living under very adverse conditions, and environmental protection,” said Jose Octavio Reyes, President of Coca-Cola Latin America. “This program also contributes to our vision of ‘zero waste’ for our packaging, where increased use of recycled materials in our bottles constitutes a central part of this vision."

In some cases, informal collectors are responsible for recovering up to 90 percent of recycled consumer products materials. But the benefits they receive represent only a very small percentage of the value generated in the value chain. Several initiatives have proven that benefits flowing to these collectors increase through their participation in inclusive businesses sponsored by multi-sectoral alliances.

MIF is providing $4 million in financing to the project, which will complemented initially with $1 million from the IDB Water and Sanitation Division’s AquaFund, $1.4 million from the Fundación Avina, and $2 million from The Coca-Cola Company. The program was launched during the VIII Inter-American Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility, which is being held by MIF in Asuncion, Paraguay May 24-26.


AVINA is a private foundation that contributes to sustainable development in Latin America by encouraging productive alliances based on trust among social and business leaders, and by brokering consensus around shared agendas for action.


The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), an autonomous fund administered by the IDB, promotes private sector development in Latin America and the Caribbean. MIF is the principal source of technical assistance for micro and small enterprise development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its main focus is support for equitable economic growth and poverty reduction through increased access to finance, markets and capabilities, and basic services.

IDB’s Water and Sanitation Division

The IDB’s Water and Sanitation Division is the largest source of financing for the sector in Latin America. In the area of municipal solid waste (MSW), the division administers the region’s largest portfolio; approved projects totaled more than $530 million in the last four years (2007-2010). The pipeline for MSW projects for 2011 totals $165 million. Also during the period 2007-2010, financing for $7.5 million was approved for technical cooperating in MSW. Priorities for MSW for the coming years include support for initiatives to reduce, reuse, and recycle (the “3Rs”) and for the inclusion of "informal recyclers" into municipal management systems.

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the largest beverage firm in the world, offering consumers more than 500 brands of carbonated and noncarbonated products. Along with Coca-Cola ®, which is recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio includes 15 brands worth more than a billion dollars, including Diet Coke ® Coca-Cola light ®, Fanta ®, Sprite ®, Coca -Cola Zero ®, Vitaminwater ®, Powerade ®, Minute Maid ®, Pulpy ®, Del Valle ® and Georgia Coffee ®. Globally, the company is the number one provider of soft drinks, juices and juice drinks, teas, and ready-to-drink coffee. Through the world’s most extensive distribution system, people in more than 200 countries consume more than 1.7 billion servings of Coca-Cola products a day. Through its firm commitment to building sustainable communities, the company focuses on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint, support active and healthy lifestyles, encourage the creation of inclusive work environments for employees, and enhance the economic development of places in which it operates.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the conviction that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead full and healthy lives. In developing countries, it focuses on the promotion of health and provides resources needed to address hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, its main objective is to ensure that all people, especially those living in poverty, gain access to the resources needed to lead a full life. The foundation, which based in Seattle, Washington, is administered by CEO Jeff Raikes and William H. Gates Sr. as co-president, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

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