RECICLETA (La Recyclette)

RECICLETA (La Recyclette)

Romania
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

RECICLETA is a project which was started with the purpose to collect the small quantities of paper waste generated by small and medium enterprises, with the help of an environmental friendly transport system, 3 cargo-bikes, which are driven by people in difficulty. The project's main objectives are the social-professional reinsertion of people in difficulty, recycling paper, environment awareness.

About You
Organization:
ViitorPlus – the Association for Sustainable Development
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Section 1: About You
First Name

Pop

Last Name

Cristina

Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

Organization Name

ViitorPlus – the Association for Sustainable Development

Organization Phone

+4(0)-31-432 86 65

Organization Address

Intrarea Buturugeni street., no. 26, 5th district,, Bucharest

Organization Country

, BC

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, BC

Innovation
What makes your innovation unique?

The uniqueness is that one project covers 3 major issues - social reinsertion, recycling paper, sustainable transportation, thus generating multiple results. By also involving small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as direct beneficiaries, we have developed a project that covers all sustainable development aspects and with a great social impact.

The project offers the possibility to reintegrate, socially and professionally, people with a poor social condition who do not have real opportunities and negotiation power in order to assure themselves a normal workplace that includes all legal and social securities. By being involved in RECICLETA and by going through active and customized learning processes, these people have a chance in finding their place back in society as normal citizens.

By collecting recyclable paper waste from SMEs from Bucharest, we have direct impact in raising awareness regarding environmental issues through a considerable number of employees. In addition, RECICLETA offers a service for those who have no real and functional option for recycling their paper waste. This means that without RECICLETA, all the quantities it currently recovers would have been lost.
"RECICLETA" is also a carbon-neutral project due to the sustainable way of transportating the waste (with cargo-bikes). All the emissions generated by transporting the collection trailer are compensated by afforestation through "Adopt a tree" program, also developed by ViitorPlus.

The educational objectives of the project are reached by raising awareness in the beneficiary companies towards reducing waste and recycling by educational messages, continuous communication and reporting and trainings on sustainable development that our organization provides periodically to the employees of those companies. Besides this, the enterprises involved in the project pay a proportional amount of money to the quantity of paper that they generate, which is used to cover project expenses.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

RECICLETA’s results went beyond its borders, as we received numerous requests to replicate it to more areas in the city, as well as in the country.

Until now:
- in nearly 9 months from its debut, this program has attracted over 60 companies and individual donors and reached a total of over 11 tons of collected and recycled paper waste;

- the record for one mobile waste collection point (a trailer) transportation to the collector is for 1700 kilograms of paper (transport and emission minimization);

- over 65 free standardized bins of 25 kilograms for collecting paper were given to the beneficiary SMEs. The bins come equipped with an educational sticker that offers the employees important information about collecting their paper waste;

- over 150 mature trees were saved. For each tone of recycled paper 15 mature trees are saved;

- one cargo-bike can collect 10 tones of paper waste/month, if it used at maximum capacity;

- RECICLETA benefits from a considerable mass-media exposure (TV, newspapers, websites, blogs)

- it has 0 CO2 emissions;

- an average of 600 employees from the beneficiary companies are actively involved in the process of selective collection of waste. Furthermore, the general public from the project area and around can use the collection trailer to deposit their paper waste for recycling;

- at the moment 1 person - cargo-biker - benefits from a safe working place. With financial support, 4 more people (4 families in risk of being separated from their children) with poor social and economical conditions can be helped.

- the recyclable waste collector has received high quality materials which determined a profitable activity (office paper waste is of superior quality);

- we have trained over 10 people in difficulty to be employed in RECICLETA as bikers, but since Romania severely lacks a system of social and economical(re)insertion for vulnerable or marginalized social categories, that completes social assistance policies, RECICLETA could only hire and keep one. He is Alexandru, 35 years - married, has 5 children (a girl and 4 boys). He has worked for 11 years with legal working papers and many other without. Last time when he was hired with legal working papers was 7 years ago. The other candidates preferred the black labor market for its short-term financial advantage.

When Alexandru was asked why he chose to work in "RECICLETA" he stated that he needs a stable monthly income to support his large family and that he is glad that he can contribute to environmental improvement. For the future he would like a bigger working flow, more companies involved in the program so that he can have more colleagues in the same situation as his, who can benefit from a normal job in RECICLETA.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Romania faces a lack of programs regarding the social and professional reinsertion of disadvantaged social categories that could enrich the social institutional services and that could be focused on the job market.

In current Romanian social and economical conditions this disadvantaged categories are even more excluded from the job market and from social services. The unemployment rate has constantly grown affecting even more people from disadvantaged categories.
Thus, an impressive number of people and families end up working in high risk conditions, in landfills, making their living from recycling waste thrown by authorities.

Other problems we face are the worsening environment conditions and the decrease of natural resources. In order to prevent this issues, humanity needs various measures in order to keep the environment in balance, one being the recycling process.

According to Eurostat, Romania is placed on one of the last positions in the European Union regarding the recycling process, as only 1% of domestic wastes are being recycled. One of the main reasons for this poor result is the lack of infrastructure together with high costs of transportation which transformed this activity in an environmentally and economically inefficient one.
It is important that the wastes are selectively collected directly at the source, and not from the landfills, with respect for sustainable development principles.
ViitorPlus comes to embrace this challenge and developed, together with his partner NGOs, a program - "RECICLETA" - that approaches the social reinsertion of disadvantaged social categories by implementing a nonpolluting recycling program that collects paper wastes form small and medium companies from Bucharest, that are not included in any other selective waste collection program.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?

Through RECICLETA, ViitorPlus can hire people who need a social-economic reinsertion: young people from placement centres, youth in probation, people without a residence, people without studies and/or professional training, people belonging to disadvantaged social or ethnic categories (poor, rroma), youth with addiction issues, people affected by disease that influence their professional and social life, immigrants and other vulnerable group in order to provide them a fundamental right - the right to work and to a decent life.

Collecting recyclable paper waste from SMEs from Bucharest offers all these people need in order to find their place in society as normal citizens. Through RECICLETA, this is realized by creating a non-polluting system that also contributes to a serious problem found in Romania – deforestation.

People in difficulty take daily short courses on the cargo-bikes in order to collect quantities up to 100 kilograms of waste from the SMEs on each course (a course is equivalent to a round trip from the mobile collection point, to the SME). The collected paper is deposited in a mobile point (a trailer), which is transported to the collector when full (with approx. 1.5 tons of paper), thus making the transportation economically viable and environmental friendly. The mobile collection point can be placed in any area of Bucharest (in a public parking lot) that holds SMEs who need a pickup of their paper. To encourage the companies to collect their waste, ViitorPlus offers free standardized bins to collect 25 kilograms of paper.

In order to make sure employees of the companies who registered in RECICLETA are actively involved in collecting the paper waste, ViitorPlus will hold several trainings for the informal leaders in each company. Our speakers will give them all the tools they need to motivate and involve their colleagues towards responsibility for the environment, for the people and for the future.

The main activities that must be implemented for further development of the project:

- infrastructure acquisitions in order to develop the project; (2 more cargo-bikes, specially adapted to Bucharest's traffic conditions)
- establishing the other areas from Bucharest/or other towns that will be included in the recycle program;
- developing new partnerships with SMEs in these areas;
- recruiting then training new cargo-bikers in order to respect their responsibilities, the traffic and safety rules and to have a decent behaviour;
- planning, supervising the collection activity;
- designing reports and newsletters in order to inform the stakeholders about the program's results;
- promoting the program on all available dissemination channels
- stimulate further selective collection of waste for recycling

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

By developing our project we established some expected results:

- Extend the project to other areas of Bucharest and/or other cities in the country (RECICLETA was requested in few other cities in Romania)

- Create at least 5 full-time jobs for people in difficulty as bikers that collect paper waste on cargo-bikes for the next 1 year - the time necessary for them to be considered rehabilitated; others will replace them

- Create locally two other cargo-bikes, specially designed to cope with the traffic conditions in Romania by involving architecture and design students from Bucharest (through a creation contest projected on 2 months time)

- 0 work accidents – by providing the necessary special trainings - periodically and the suitable protection gear to all bikers

- Involve a minimum of 200 SMEs (with an average of 10 employees each)in each project area, in a system dedicated to collect the recyclable waste generated by their activity

- extend the collection to other types of recyclable waste, besides paper: PET, cans, glass (Romania might not reach its glass recycling targets this year)

- 0 CO2 emissions from the transportation. Zero emissions at the intermediary deposit point (transportation provided by cargo-bikes) and compensation of the CO2 generated by the transportation of the container to the collector through planting trees (estimated at 500 seedlings/year)

- Raise awareness among the general public (minimum of 2000 people in each project area) on sustainability related issues: recycling, sustainable transportation, improve their perception on people in difficulty

- Reach the potential to collect over 30 tons of paper every month; this quantity is equivalent to approximately 120 cubic meters deviated from the landfills and recycled each month

- Financial sustainability of the project through the income generated by recycling the collected paper – only assures the monthly operational costs, after the initial infrastructure investments are covered.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

In theory, the model can be implemented for the general public by Local Authorities. The policies on waste management were not harmonized when they were transposed in the national legislation, so they do not take into consideration many aspects that affect their successful implementation. RECICLETA would like to show that small quantities of waste count as well and that specific measures must be taken in order to recover them. In the same time, RECICLETA faces a few authorization issues because the law does not state the possibility that the waste can be collected by a non-profit organization, although Romanian NGOs have developed a number of functional collection systems that come to complete (and sometimes replace) the public one. We would like to be officially permitted to undertake this kind of activity, as it can be a source for sustaining NGO activities and programs and in the same time, contribute to the improvement of environmental factors.

Sustainability
What stage is your Social Enterprise in?

Operating for less than a year

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your Social Enterprise

ViitorPlus believes in the power of collaboration and in sharing ideas in order to obtain results. That's why our project "RECICLETA" has three partner NGOs, SOS Children Villages Romania, Ateliers sans Frontieres -which focus on the social dimension - and Bate Saua sa Priceapa Iapa, which is an association that struggles to promote bicycles as a meaning of transportation and fun in our daily lives.

The bikers, who are people in difficulty, were first prepared to work in RECICLETA, through specialized and adapted trainings on traffic rules, interaction with people, teamwork, and responsibility for their workplace and equipment. Most of the people in difficulty did not manage to get an education because they were forced to work from a young age or were left without a family. All these considered, teaching and managing them requires a specialized effort, which RECICLETA receives from its partnership with social oriented organizations like SOS Children Villages and Ateliers sans Frontieres.

Together we managed to create programs that offer diverse activities that can engage people in difficulty. RECICLETA is one of these programs.

Although the organization does have non-monetary partnerships with some companies, for RECICLETA partner enterprises are the engine by providing us waste paper and small taxes. For each ‘standard’ bin RECICLETA empties, the company pays a small ‘tax’ of 1.2 Euro (5 Romanian lei – RON). In return, by interacting directly to the beneficiaries of the project through our volunteers, we can offer them precious information that contributes to raising awareness on environmental topics and improves their mindsets concerning people in difficulty. This is why RECICLETA is a priceless asset for the community.

ViitorPlus has developed multiple partnerships with organizations, businesses, public authorities, by involving them in more than one ongoing program.

Together our social and environmental impact is more significant!

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

RECICLETA has 3 sources of financing its operational activities:

1. revenues from recycling the collected paper - the cargo-bikes empty their load in a mobile collection point (a trailer). When it is full (with approximately 1500 kilograms), we organize its transport towards the authorized partner collector, thus optimizing the transports, both environmentally (by minimizing emissions) and economically (one transport instead of hundreds - which were taken over by the cargo-bikes). So far we collected and recycled over 11 tons of paper, that were otherwise lost (taken to the landfill)

2. the taxes collected for emptying the bins (from the beneficiary companies)- for each bin the SMEs in the project area require a pick-up, RECICLETA takes a small tax of 1.2 Euros.

3. advertising revenues - the cargo-bikes and the trailer offer a generous mobile advertising space in a highly appreciated area of Bucharest.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The idea was generated by the context of waste management in Romania. We were aware that small and medium enterprises hadn't been included in any selective waste collection scheme and everybody considers that it is very consuming and non efficient to include them in a classic collection system - with automobiles. The general opinion is that from small companies is not profitable to selectively collect recyclable waste.
It was then when we came up with the solution. We knew that a social enterprise from France is producing cargo-bicycles and we instantly knew that is the best sustainable solution - an eco transport system with zero carbon emissions.
In order to add the social component to the project, we decided to hire and help people that were socially and economically disadvantaged.

That's how our project started ... from one unsolved issue and reached solving many other problems.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

ViitorPlus was founded to stimulate and contribute at putting in practice the concept of sustainable development at individual, community and organizational level.

We are a young, dynamic team with strong academic background (BA, Master, PhD) on various fields (ecology, economics, engineering, communication etc) but also practical expertise (business consultancy, research, journalism) and a lot of passion for sustainable development.

To achieve our mission, we focus on 4 main directions:
- Realize educational and communication programs;
- Support the research of important areas relevant to the sustainable development of Romania and use the results in the benefit of society;
- Create, maintain and develop networks of professionals and people interested in sustainable development;
- Implement the principles of sustainable development through practical projects.

ViitorPlus is running activities on some areas of sustainable development, relevant for the Romanian realities: good governance, forestry, recycling, education and green buildings.

We started the biggest afforestation program in Romania based on fund-raising from private funds, "Adopt a tree!", first on 39 hectares of degraded agricultural land in one of the least forested county, Calarasi (only 4%).
So far we organized 4 planting campaigns with over 1800 volunteers, where over 120.000 seedling trees were planted on 21 hectares and which involved 50 companies and over 400 individual donors.

We continuously run educational activities on sustainable development, especially addressed to students but also awareness campaigns for the general public. Our training or conferences reached over 2000 people.

We were among the first organizations in Romania to start the debate and raise awareness on sustainability issues in the construction sector, back in 2007, with a series of conferences and round table discussions among industry’s stakeholders.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information