Fortaleza is implementing a recycling system that incentivizes the proper separation of materials at waste collection points throughout the city and reduces waste to landfill.

Having struggled with expensive and inefficient door-to-door recycling systems, the Brazilian coastal city of Fortaleza is piloting a value-based community recycling strategy. Currently rolled out in 24 neighborhoods throughout the city, Fortaleza offers transport and energy credits for citizens who correctly sort and recycle their waste at collection points. This approach was designed to create real behavioral changes and avoid waste to landfill.

Since the start of the project in 2016, Recycling Fortaleza has led to 9,000 people practicing waste separation and disposal and more than 830 tons of waste being recycled rather than taken to landfill. Based on the success of the program thus far, the city intends to roll out collection points to a further 100 neighborhoods.

40% increase in recycling is targeted by 2030

The challenge

Brazil has an overall recycling rate of around 1%. Improving this rate is crucial for reducing carbon emissions associated with landfill waste, as well as protecting Brazil’s natural environment from human-generated waste. Financial incentives for recycling can be a powerful tool for changing habits. 


Economic Recycling Fortaleza distributes around $6,500 per month, mainly among the poorer communities of Fortaleza.

Environmental Fortaleza aims to increase composting of organic waste by 20% by 2020.

Social Participants sorted their waste into 33 types of household waste, demonstrating that behavioral change is possible in waste management.

About Fortaleza

Fortaleza is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. It is an important industrial and commercial center of Brazil, the eighth nation’s largest municipal purchasing power. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the city reached the marks of second most desired destination of Brazil and fourth Brazilian city that receives more tourists.

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