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BASF’s biodegradable ecovio bags help promote a culture of recycling in Chile

January 18, 2018

In 2010, Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD. Subsequently, the country has affirmed its commitment to achieving the organization’s sustainablity goals which include an environmentally sound management of waste. This is also in the country’s own best interest, for the rapid growth and increased consumption of resources have caused environmental challenges such as high air pollution, oceans pollution, water shortages and vulnerability to climate change. Hence, the concern for the environment of both the public and private sector has recently been growing.


Promoting a culture of recycling

Several institutions of the public sector have therefore joined forces to cooperatively implement a campaign called “Santiago REcicla”. The aim of the campaign is to promote a culture of recycling among the inhabitants of the Chilean capital by funding the necessary infrastructure and raising public awareness towards the issue of waste separation. Yet, private companies also take actions to accompany Chile along its path of green growth. As the initiator of the project “Futuro Compostable,” BASF plays a leading role in private sector engagement for bio-waste management. The idea behind the project is to create a closed loop system to help reduce the 10 million tons of organic waste that end up in Chilean landfills each year. Within the scope of a pilot project, BASF has found out that the use of organic waste bags made of its compostable plastic ecovio®, together with training, helps increase the share of organic waste that is collected separately. The pilot project, in which about 200 households participated, was conducted in cooperation with the Chilean municipalities of La Reina and Providencia. The recycling agency “HOPE” took care of the waste collection and Idea Corp, a certified composting plant, has been in charge of the composting process. Due to the success of the pilot project, BASF has now started cooperating with further municipalities in order to implement the use of ecovio® bags on a larger scale.

The advantages of the project “Futuro Compostable” are the following: composting organic waste instead of burning it not only keeps landfills from filling up prematurely, it also reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, compost can be used as a soil improver and thus contributes towards a circular economy. The use of ecovio® bags make the separate collection of organic materials, such as food scraps or yard trimmings, much easier and more hygienic. Preparations for the launch of the project have been going on since 2015. Ultimately, the final pilot test demonstrated that many Chileans seem to have positive attitudes towards recycling. “The test also showed that progress is most likely to be achieved when people are equipped with a garbage can with a cover as well as with ecovio® plastic bags,” explains Erika Hernández, Market Developer and Innovation Coordinator for BASF Chile and Perú. This conclusion could be drawn after participants had been divided into different groups to test which methods are most effective for increasing the share of organic waste collected separately. “The combination of ecovio® bags and containers with a cover seems to be perceived as the most hygienic and practical system for waste sorting since in that way, people do not feel disturbed by smells and can easily and quickly get rid of their kitchen waste without changing the habit of using plastic bags. 

“Futuro Compostable” is to be tested on a larger scale

Generally, the people that participated in the pilot test responded positively when asked if they would like to continue separating their waste. Furthermore, the municipalities that participated in the pilot run are very optimistic about continuing with the project in the future. Meanwhile, the project has successfully completed the incubation phase and will step by step be tested and implemented in larger parts of Chile and also in Peru. The idea that initially gave birth to the project originated from a regional idea contest which formed part of the BASF Creator Space™ program. Creator Space is a BASF innovation program – that brings people together to imagine and co-create the markets, technologies and business models of the future. “Futuro Compostable” is the first of nine corporate-funded projects to be handed over to an operating division for business build-up after successfully completing the Creator Space incubation phase.