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Startup from Pernambuco, Brazil Creates Recicletool: Mac...

Startup from Pernambuco, Brazil Creates Recicletool: Machine that Pays People to Recycle

Would you like to contribute to the environment and also be compensated for it? This is precisely the proposal of Recicletool, the machine that directly sends money to your bank account in return for the disposal of PET bottles, glass, and aluminum cans. But starting in November, Recicletool will introduce another new idea: to generate

Reclicetool, Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

Would you like to contribute to the environment and also be compensated for it? This is precisely the proposal of Recicletool, the machine that directly sends money to your bank account in return for the disposal of PET bottles, glass, and aluminum cans. But starting in November, Recicletool will introduce another new idea: to generate income for the recycling collectors. When the machine -- which can hold up to four cubic meters of solid waste --  becomes 80% full, a message is sent to the cooperative or collector responsible for collecting the material. After sending the waste to be recycled, 50% of the earnings stay with the collector and the other half is distributed among the users.

For this product, the inventors, Thiago Dantas and Severino Barros, both from Pernambuco are in negotiations with the Recife Cooperative of Professional Collectors (Pró Recife). The cooperative is composed of 29 people from the community of Caranguejo Tabaiares, located in the Afogados neighborhood in the West Zone of the Capital. José Cardoso, a partner at Pró Recife, thinks that the partnership has a positive future. “Recicletool, without a doubt, brings together what we do every day irregardless: send materials to be recycled. The platform will in fact help increase our income," he praised.

Recicletool is composed of a LCD screen, a computer connected to the internet, optical drives, rolling cylinders, motion sensors, waste storage box and a program for identification of materials. Using the machine is quite straightforward. Users register in advance on a smartphone app, which collects personal data including their bank account information. The application will be available initially just for Android. The intention is for the platform to come to iOS in February of 2016. After the user identification, the machine is ready to receive solid waste. Items should then be deposited one by one into the green opening.

“The machine automatically performs the classification and will generate a series of information, such as characteristics of the product (if it is aluminum or plastic, for example). At the end of the process, a value is calculated. This value will be the sum of the values of all materials deposited by the individual. The values, starting from R$ 10, will be directly deposited into the user’s account. In the long run, the inventors intend to create partnerships with frequent flyer programs so that users can turn their earnings into trips.

Recicletool, Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

Campus Party

The general public learned about Recicletool for the first time during the Campus Party Recife event, which occurred in July in the Pernambuco Convention Center. The presentation brought them a lot of exposure. “Some startup accelerators and shopping centers have shown interest in investing capital to develop the project. There are even businesses and large construction companies in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro getting in touch with us about getting the machine. This is very gratifying, as it is a signal that our investment was worthwhile,” stated Dantas.

According to him, Recicletool was planned to be located in highly frequented places, such as shopping centers, supermarkets, and condominiums. The investment to purchase the equipment is R$ 7 thousand, or R$ 650 per month to rent it.

Inspiration

The inspiration to create such a machine came after a trip made by Tiago Dantas to Germany in 2009. “There I saw several similar systems. Since then, I insisted on bringing this method to Recife at any cost. Since the price to import it is R$ 40 thousand, I began to research ways to develop my own project. I searched to find what would be necessary for the machine. I researched prices, and sought out partners to whom I could sell the idea,” he recalls.

He credits his partner, computer engineer Severino Barros, who gave a "makeover" to the first version of the machine. "Today, the Recicletool is much improved from the first version -- it was quite rough," joked Dantas.

Many of the parts are commissioned from Germany, China and England. Their funding has already reached R$ 25,000. The model may even have found its first home. The partners Thiago and Severino added that they are negotiating with Brotfabrik Bakery, located on Moeda Street in Recife. The idea is to initially have the income generated from the machine be converted into discounts on food.

What are some innovative ways to encourage recycling in your community? How are recycling collectors compensated where you live? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Anna Petrone is a transportation engineering masters student at the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor in Math and Economics. Her interests lie in transportation projects located in developing countries, particularly in South America. She took a...

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