By including Bogotá’s informal recyclers in the city’s social and economic structure, thousands of people have been granted deserved dignity and the city’s emissions are significantly lowered due to increased recycling.

In an effort to lower emissions and improve social justice, Bogotá launched the Zero Waste program in 2012. The program aims to increase recycling and reduce waste sent to landfills, while establishing more equitable conditions for the city’s recyclers, who previously had been excluded from the social and economic structures of the city.

The Zero Waste program is part of the city’s development program, Bogotá Humana, which prioritizes environmental stewardship, with a particular focus on social inclusion. This focus has meant that thousands of recyclers have been given the chance to work under the city’s new waste collection scheme, giving them financial incentives to help increase recycling and providing them with formal recognition by the government. The recyclers’ efforts, along with conscious consumerism and improved residential waste separation, are key components of the city’s strategy to fulfill a goal of reducing waste sent to landfills by 20% by 2016.

700,000 tons of CO2 emissions reduced per year

The challenge

Historically, waste collection services in Bogotá have not been prioritized and informal waste pickers were valued neither socially nor economically. The city’s Zero Waste program focuses on awarding dignity to the city’s recyclers, which has led to improved collection of reusable materials, increased energy produced at biogas plants, and reduced CO2 emissions.


Economic As a result of the Zero Waste strategy, the price of service collection has been reduced by 15%.

Environmental A biogas plant located at one of the city’s landfills produces about 39MW of energy every month.

Health As part of Bogotá’s social inclusion strategy, 12,000 protection kits are being delivered to the city’s recyclers, allowing them to more safely do their jobs.

Social The city recyclers are now compensated for their work, which has boosted collection rates by about one ton of reusable materials daily.

About Bogotá

Bogotá is the capital and largest city of Colombia administered as the Capital District. The city is located in the center of Colombia, on a high plateau known as the Bogotá savanna and is the political, economic, administrative, industrial, artistic, cultural, and sports center of the country. The city’s airport, El Dorado International Airport, named after the mythical El Dorado, handles the largest cargo volume in Latin America, and is third in number of people.

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