GIRA Project drives carton packaging recycling in Ecuador

The GIRA project in Ecuador is a pioneering initiative that strives to revolutionise carton recycling and promote a circular economy1 in the country. With a focus on bolstering the collection infrastructure, the project aims to make recycling more accessible and efficient for the population.

Background and initiative – public and corporate policy rise to the occasion

Just over 37% of Ecuador’s municipalities have differentiated collections for recycling. As of 2018, only around 6% of household waste was recycled nationwide2. Since 2019, Ecuador’s government has been working on a roadmap towards a National Circular Economy Strategy. This includes a law drafted by the National Assembly to reduce single-use plastics and the GIRA project, which aims to facilitate the recycling and responsible disposal of PET packaging, caps, flexible and rigid plastic, flex foam, paper, cardboard, glass and cans.

The GIRA initiative involves the entire value chain of Corporación Favorita (a major conglomerate specialising in supermarkets and department stores) and incorporates many of Ecuador’s major brands. It also has the support of government agencies such as the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fishing, and the Office of the Vice President.

Woman recycling a carton package in the recycling station

Image: GIRA recycling station with Tetra Pak receptacle

Results – recycling infrastructure plus recycling awareness

A key aspect of the project involves the establishment of 94 recycling stations across Ecuador, catering to nine different materials, including carton packages. The widespread coverage of these stations ensures that individuals from various regions have convenient access to recycling facilities, thereby encouraging greater participation in recycling practices.

Through national social media and television campaigns, the GIRA project has captured the public's attention, fostering a culture of environmental consciousness and encouraging active participation in recycling initiatives. The widespread brand awareness campaigns have further solidified the project's influence, elevating public engagement in recycling practices.

Looking ahead – towards a circular economy

The GIRA project represents a significant step towards establishing a circular economy in Ecuador, in terms of infrastructure, public consciousness and corporate responsibility. Through the ongoing efforts and growth of the initiative, the hope is that recycling rates will continue to increase via improved collection and efficiency .

Recycling station for cartons

Image: GIRA recycling station

1The circular economy refers to a system in which materials never become waste and are kept in circulation through processes including recycling, reuse and composting. It tackles environmental challenges by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. Source:, What is a circular economy?

2National Institute of Statistics and Census


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