Trading Recycling for Food and Services

Sustainable Energy awareness platform Revmodo recently reported on the growing success and popularity of recycle for food and services programs that first took off in Brazil and most recently spread to Mexico. It is truly touching to see the enormous success of everyday people donating their time to help reduce waste. It will be very interesting to see future generations come of age in an area demonstrating such a strong example of working to create a more sustainable future as well as the importance of fresh, locally grown produce.

Take a look at the full story below; Do you think a system such as this is possible in the United States? Why or why not? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

The city of Jundiai, Brazil, once struggled with litter-cluttered streets and trash-filled waterways. But 10 years ago, the city government launched a new program, called Delicious Recycling, designed to get more residents to recycle. In exchange for collecting cans and bottles, the city gives residents fresh produce grown in a local public garden. Now, the garden grows more than 30,000 plants to keep up with demand.

Other cities in Central and South America — particularly in Brazil — have similar programs. Curitiba, Brazil, began a recycling incentive program even earlier, offering transportation passes in exchange for recyclables. Residents of local shantytowns are employed to collect more trash, and the recyclable materials are sold to raise money for social services. The city now recycles 70 percent of its waste.

Inspired by the other programs, Mexico City is also now offering food in exchange for recycling.

The city has a major challenge with waste; it closed the largest landfill in the world last year, a 927-acre space that collected more than 76 million tons of trash. Now, the closed landfill will be tapped to generate power through its methane emissions. But every day, the city produces around 12,600 metric tons of new trash, and the government is looking for ways to dramatically cut that. The waste-to-food program is helping. When residents bring in their recycling, they’re given “green points” that can be spent at a local farmers’ market. It’s been a success so far, and the first market was so popular that all three tons of food were quickly given away.