Recognising the importance of autonomous waste pickers in the Brazilian recycling chain and knowing that they have not regularly collected carton packages in the past, we collaborated with the Cataki Project. This initiative provides assistance and benefits to independent waste pickers and strives to promote sustainability. Our joint effort aimed to increase carton package recycling while simultaneously improving waste pickers' livelihoods.
The low participation of autonomous waste pickers in carton package collection in Brazil posed challenges in the collection of cartons for recycling and genuinely understanding the social reality of the entire collection chain. Waste pickers also faced difficulties sustaining themselves and their families due to limited financial incomes.
These two challenges were placed at the centre of our approach in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte through supporting the Cataki Project.
Together we introduced subsidies for autonomous waste pickers. The project covered two cities and, since the beginning, has involved seven waste pickers cooperatives and over two hundred autonomous waste pickers. Under the initiative, collected carton packages were sold to waste pickers cooperatives, benefiting both parties with subsidies.
The Cataki app played a crucial role in connecting waste pickers with recycling cooperatives and providing financial incentives by increasing the value of collected materials. Additionally, the app is an essential tool for environmental awareness. Participating waste pickers were paid per kilo of packaging collected and delivered to the cooperatives, while the cooperatives received an identical bonus for the service. Besides that, the independent waste pickers are entitled to food cards, personal protective equipment and other support items that help to improve their working and living conditions.
Tetra Pak’s collaboration with waste pickers through the Cataki Project is already in the third year of execution, and more than 100 tonnes of carton packages were sent to recyclers, contributing to increased recycling rates in Brazil. Through information, education and financial incentives, the initiative includes independent waste pickers in the used beverage carton recycling chain and integrates waste pickers while promoting better income conditions.
The Cataki app not only streamlined the collection process but also improved working conditions for waste pickers, reducing working hours and promoting well-being. It also profoundly impacted waste pickers' perception of their profession. They reported increased awareness of the social and environmental importance of their job and experienced renewed pride in their work. Moreover, over 57% of app users improved their incomes by receiving more collection requests and selling more waste material, increasing financial stability.