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Real Change, At Scale

On a mission to redesign human systems for the
good of people and the planet

Who We Are

Delterra is a 501(c)(3) independent, environmental nonprofit. We are on a mission to solve the world’s most complex systemic environmental challenges—on the ground, at scale, and with urgency.

What We Do

We take on challenges with a view to transform entire ecosystems, starting with waste management and recycling in the Global South. We work alongside change agents from public, private, and social sectors to understand the challenges and solve them together.

How We Think

As an independent nonprofit, we combine our purpose-driven mission with the rigorous problem-solving approach of our founding partner McKinsey & Company and the pragmatism of the community organizers with whom we collaborate.

The result: real people working together to create real change across the ecosystem.

Rethinking Recycling 2020

By the Numbers

At Delterra, we measure our progress and ambition against our core success metric: environmental impact. These numbers highlight our ability and ambition to deliver system-wide change on large-scale environmental problems while improving people’s lives.

 

To date/near term:

1.5M
Number of people we are on track to reach with recycling and waste management services, most of whom had no access to these services before
60%
Average participation of community members in our recycling program, higher than the participation rate of many US cities
450+
Improved livelihoods of 450+ waste workers, many of whom are marginalized women

Where We Work

From Buenos Aires to Bali we are forging partnerships and working to find what is universally true and culturally unique, so that we can scale what works across Latin America and Southeast Asia, with plans to expand to Africa in the coming years.

Indonesia

Program details

We’re working with the local community and partners in Bali to establish and scale integrated waste and recycling systems across Indonesia.

Argentina

Program details

We’re inspiring participation in recycling in Buenos Aires and Olavarría as test cases to scale inclusive recycling solutions across the country.

Waste Warriors

Our work has a lasting impact.
Olavarría
Juan and Adrian: “Waste is a Family Business”

Juan (left) and Adrian (right) are relatives from Olavarría and have been working in waste since they were 14 and 12 years old, along with their fathers and brothers. Growing up and into their adulthood, Juan and Adrian would go to the landfill every day unless weather conditions prevented them from working. However, like so many workers all over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic upended their ability to visit the landfill and sort through waste. Due to restrictions at the landfill, fewer people were allowed to work at a time, and Juan and Adrian could no longer perform the work that their families depended on. 

Thankfully, Juan and Adrian were able to find work with Rethinking Recycling’s GIRO recycling and composting plants in Olavarría. At the GIRO recycling plant, Juan and Adrian are able to work in a cleaner environment and receive formal, regular payments for their work. 

Now they are in their 30s with young families of their own, Juan and Adrian have a deeper appreciation for the work they have been doing since they were in their early teens. Both men hope that the city will continue to increase its understanding of recycling and how proper recycling practices can improve living conditions for countless Argentinians.

“It is the job that we have been doing all our lives, but in a more orderly way, in a good work environment.”

- Juan
Barrio Mugica
Ximena: “Recycling Starts with the First Conversation”

Ximena has been working with our Buenos Aires “A Todo Reciclaje” (ATR) program for over three years and says her “most beautiful” experience with the program has been talking with her neighbors about recycling. Prior to the ATR program, a lot of Ximena’s neighbors did not know how to separate their waste into three categories (organics, recyclables and mixed waste) at home, and how much usable waste they were throwing away.  

Today, Ximena talks about recycling everywhere she goes–whether it is with her children at home or when she is volunteering at youth activities. As the program continues to grow, Ximena hopes the Barrio will continue to see improvements from recycling and more interest in waste work. 

“There were a lot of people that wanted to work in [waste] and now they have the right platform to do it.”

- Ximena
Barrio Mugica
Lucia: “Rotation Makes the Job Fun”

Lucia is a devoted grandmother who has been working in waste for over nine years, three with our Buenos Aires  “A Todo Reciclaje” (ATR) program. Prior to the ATR program, Lucia only had one task: sweeping up the streets. Once the ATR program was implemented, Lucia was able to have more interaction with her neighbors about recycling and each team member rotated tasks every week-providing Lucia with more hands-on opportunities to get involved and learn more about recycling. 

Lucia now earns extra income from her waste work, which is especially helpful given the financial challenges many families have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Any extra income is a help,” Lucia shares. 

We did not have direct interaction with neighbors so they did not know the way we worked and, as a result, waste collection and sweeping was total chaos.”

- Lucia
Barrio Mugica
Yrma: “When Recycling Becomes a Passion”

A three-year veteran of our Buenos Aires “A Todo Reciclaje” (ATR) program, Yrma admits she’s become a bit obsessed about recycling. Working in waste since 2015, Yrma has seen first-hand how the ATR program made the neighborhood much cleaner and streamlined the work for her and her colleagues.

Outside of recycling and her work with the ATR program, Yrma operates her own laundry and plans for the future of her small business.

Every recyclable material that I see lying on the street I want to collect and recycle!”

- Yrma
Bali
Pak Siswoyo and Bu Siti: “A Husband and Wife Recycling Team”

Pak Siswoyo started out as a farmer in the small village of Desa Kenkong, but later moved to Bali with the hope he would find a different future for himself. However, when a career in tourism did not materialize, Pak Siswoyo found work as a waste picker – an informal position where he would sort through discarded plastic for an income. 

Through the Desa Kedas program, started by the Rethinking Recycling initiative, Pak Siswoyo was able to transition from an informal position to a formal position with better pay. 

Pak Siswoyo’s wife, Bu Siti, was working as a domestic helper when she decided to join her husband at TPS3R Sekar Tanjung recycling center. Today, the couple works side-by-side and are both considered ‘irreplaceable’ by their team members.

“Now, we are proud garbage men.”

- Pak Siswoyo
Bali
Pak Siswoyo and Bu Siti: “A Husband and Wife Recycling Team”

Pak Siswoyo’s wife, Bu Siti, was working as a domestic helper when she decided to join her husband at TPS3R Sekar Tanjung recycling center. Today, the couple works side-by-side and are both considered ‘irreplaceable’ by their team members. 

Through the Rethinking Recycling initiative, the entire village has united to champion the recycling program, with Pak Sis and his waste worker colleagues encouraging a new era of families to separate waste at source and divert it from landfill.

When they are not working together at the recycling center, Pak Siswoyo and Bu Siti enjoy farming and have planted different herbs at TPS3R Sekar Tanjung.

“No matter what problems we face, Rethinking Recycling works with us to find a solution.”

- Bu Siti
Bali
Pak Kolok: “Driving Recycling Forward Without Limits”

Pak Kolok was born and raised in the Kesiman Kertalangu village where the Rethinking Recycling program currently operates. He found work in waste as a sweeper in 2005 and became a waste collector/driver in 2010. 

Pak Kolok is passionate about his work and will often physically demonstrate how to properly sort through waste for households, given his speech and communication disability. His belief and his persistence in recycling education makes him a highly-valued member of his team. 

“We all live on the same Earth. Our waste can destroy the ecosystem and, therefore, we should be responsible for it. Let’s have a more beautiful and comfortable world to live in together.

- Pak Kolok

Partners

Our partner-first philosophy is built on the belief that we can only realize our ambitions together. The support of our partners and sponsors makes the impact we’re driving possible.
McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm committed to helping organizations create positive, enduring change in the world. Our approach to social responsibility includes empowering our people to give back to their communities, operating our firm in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible, and working with our clients to serve all stakeholders to achieve holistic impact. Since 2018, McKinsey & Company has supported Rethinking Recycling through its foundation, McKinsey.org.
Minderoo Foundation
Minderoo Foundation Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, Minderoo Foundation is a modern philanthropic organization seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean conservation and ending slavery, to collaboration against cancer and building community projects.
The World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
C40
C40 is a network of nearly 100 cities working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and collaborative approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities. Around the world, sustainable urban waste management practices can improve public health and economic opportunity. When approached holistically, waste and sustainable materials management can help cities reduce 15-20% of their emissions through reduction, avoidance, recycling, treatment and offsetting. C40 supports cities to take significant steps towards a future without waste by reducing waste generation, increasing diversion and reducing disposal, reducing GHG emissions through sustainable waste and regenerative materials management, and deploying tactics to enhance sustainable consumption and the circular economy. Additionally, support is provided to accelerate policies and actions that increase waste minimization, reduction and resource recovery and treatment. C40 delivers support through two waste-related networks and the Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration.
Circulate Capital
Circulate Capital is an investment management firm that is dedicated to incubating and financing companies, projects, and infrastructure that prevent the flow of plastic waste into the world’s ocean while advancing the circular economy in South and Southeast Asia. Circulate Capital is an independent organization backed by many of the world’s leading multinational corporations.
The Circulate Initiative

The Circulate Initiative is a non-profit organization committed to solving the ocean plastic pollution challenge by supporting the incubation of circular, inclusive and investible waste management and recycling systems and generating insights that accelerate investment and scale.

PREVENT Waste Alliance
Initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the PREVENT Waste Alliance was launched in May 2019. It serves as a platform for exchange and international cooperation. Organisations from the private sector, academia, civil society and public institutions jointly engage for a circular economy.
Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment
Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment (BE.Center) is the world’s first center dedicated exclusively to behavioral science and design for the environment. With a diverse team of world-class behavioral and social scientists, designers, and trainers, we connect research and insights from behavioral and social sciences and design thinking to practitioners on the frontlines of our most urgent environmental challenges.
Almado
Almado is an Argentina-based consultancy and social enterprise that helps organizations develop strategies and solutions to social challenges that have high social, environmental and economic impact and return on investment. Almado brings deep experience and relationships from working with both informal settlement communities, as well as private sector and impact investors. By collaborating with other cooperatives, city governments, and social enterprises, Almado hopes solutions like this can be quickly scaled up across and beyond Argentina.
Bintix

Bintix Waste Research is a Hyderabad, India-based company and works in the field of waste management and recycling. Bintix believes that the optimal use of technology-driven operations optimisation is a key towards making waste management a more sustainable endeavour, both at the generator level (e.g. households) and at the processor-level (e.g. waste management entities). Bintix’s existing software has been field tested for nearly 2 years now and has been fine-tuned extensively across a customer base consisting of 5000+ customers in several cities/regions and has helped meticulously track and recycle>200 MT of waste into more than 30 streams.

Badung Regency
Bali Government
City of Buenos Aires – Secretariat of Social and Urban Integration
The Secretariat for Social and Urban Integration of the City of Buenos Aires is undertaking an ambitious project to transform Barrio 31, one of the oldest informal settlements in the city, by improving access to education, health and economic opportunities; and ensuring basic services and adequate housing. The project also focuses on improving public spaces and developing innovative strategies to encourage better economic, cultural and social integration between Barrio 31 and other areas of Buenos Aires.
Clean Oceans through Clean Communities
Clean Oceans through Clean Communities (CLOCC) is an initiative by Avfall Norge, with ISWA as implementing partner. CLOCC is supported by Norad, and is a part of the Norwegian government’s development programme to reduce marine plastic pollution and microplastics. CLOCC’s partners include InSWA (Indonesia Solid Waste Association), Rethinking Recycling Academy and SYSTEMIQ. CLOCC’s objective is to reduce marine plastic pollution through improving waste management on land.
EcoBali
Established in 2006, ecoBali is a waste management company working in the south of Bali, Indonesia. The organization works to encourage a zero-waste lifestyle and promote responsible waste management through the collection, recycling and composting of waste. It operates its own Material Recovery Facility,conducts educational programs in schools and communities, and designs and markets eco-friendly products. EcoBali has developed tailored programs in waste management (including Waste Banks), environmental education and sustainable lifestyle, and has established extended producer responsibility programs together with companies such as Tetra Pak, The Body Shop, AQUA and Bali Buda.
Indonesian Ministries
Olavarría

Olavarría is located in the center of the Province of Buenos Aires and was founded on November 25, 1867. It has numerous green spaces and a large park that borders the Tapalqué Stream. Due to its strategic position, it has a great influence that has favored its growth. There is a balance between the harmony of a town and the hustle and bustle of a big city, generating an ideal environment to rest and/or to be able to choose to enjoy several activities to do and to feel new experiences in the free times. That is why the management of the environment and the improvement in the quality of life of its population is a strategic issue for the city.

RIL – Red de Innovación Local
RIL (from their name in spanish Red de Innovación Local) is a non-partisan and non-profit civil association that works with local government teams with the objective of enhancing their management capabilities and strengthening their transformative power to improve the quality of life of their citizens and help them develop. RIL works in Argentina with more than 1,400 local officials from 280 cities, 69 cities from other 11 countries in Latin America and 20 cities from Europe and Africa. The cities that are part of the network have access to programs and tools to turn into collaborative, innovative, efficient, sustainable, and digital cities.
Second Muse
Second Muse believes that economies are easily shaped and influenced in their infancy, so they start by supporting entrepreneurs and the ecosystems around them. They do this by engaging participants and organizations through a mix of innovation programming (hackathons, incubators, accelerators), supporting ecosystem development, and designing and distributing investment funds.
SYSTEMIQ
SYSTEMIQ is a systems change company that partners with business, finance, policy-makers, and civil society to make economic systems truly sustainable. We combine high-level research with high-impact, on-the-ground work. We’re a “think-and-do” tank that sparks good disruptions and operates with purpose at our core.
Waste 4 Change
Waste 4 Change is focused on changes in the Responsible Waste Management Ecosystem Based on Collaboration and Technology Towards the Implementation of a Circular Economy and a Waste-Free Indonesia
World Business Council For Sustainable Development (wbcsd)
WBCSD is the premier global, CEO-led community of over 200 of the world’s leading sustainable businesses working collectively to accelerate the system transformations needed for a net-zero, nature positive, and more equitable future.
Walmart.org
Together, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation generally provide more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind to support programs that align with their philanthropic priorities. They focus on areas where we can do the most good - combining the unique strengths of the business alongside our philanthropy.
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is an international non-profit partnering with government, environmental and economic development NGOs and communities around the world to address the challenge to end plastic waste in the environment. Through programmes and partnerships, the Alliance focuses on solutions in four strategic areas: infrastructure, innovation, education and engagement, and clean up. As of January 2021, the Alliance has more than 50 member companies and supporters representing global companies and organisations across the plastic value chain. For more information, visit: www.endplasticwaste.org
Amcor
Amcor is a global leader in developing and producing responsible packaging for food, beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, home and personal-care, and other products. Amcor works with leading companies around the world to protect their products and the people who rely on them, differentiate brands, and improve supply chains through a range of flexible and rigid packaging, specialty cartons, closures, and services. The company is focused on making packaging that is increasingly light-weighted, recyclable and reusable, and made using an increasing amount of recycled content. Around 46,000 Amcor people generate $13 billion in annual sales from operations that span about 225 locations in 40-plus countries.
Avfall Norge
Avfall Norge organizes the Norwegian recycling industry and their stakeholders across geography and sectors. We represent over 200 different companies that work in waste management, recycling and recycled raw materials. Our members are IKSs / municipalities, private recycling companies, recycling companies, entrepreneurs, suppliers and consultants.
Plastic Smart Cities
Plastic Smart Cities is a WWF initiative working with cities worldwide to keep plastic out of nature. Since 2018, the initiative supports cities and coastal centres that are taking bold action to stop plastic pollution. WWF is working with 25 pilot cities to achieve a 30% reduction in plastic leakage by 2025, through better waste management and advancing circular economy. Together, we aim to achieve 1000 plastic-smart cities globally to join this movement by 2030. For more information, visit plasticsmartcities.org.
PRAISE
PRAISE, the Packaging and Recycling Association for Indonesia Sustainable Environment, is an alliance established by six founding companies—Coca-Cola, Danone, Indofood, Nestlé, Tetra Pak, and Unilever Indonesia. Its purpose is to create and enable a sustainable ecosystem that transforms packaging waste into a high value resource, bringing economic, social, and environmental benefits to Indonesia.

Rethinking Recycling Academy’s (organization’s) work on the ground has really inspired us to look at an integrated recycling solution for Bali that empowers the community to solve their waste management challenges. Not only does it impact the environment, the work also enables change for the waste workers and the ecosystem. We look forward to continue learning and working with you.

Rofi Alhanif
Assistant Deputy of Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Indonesia

Rethinking Recycling and The Circulate Capital have been Knowledge Partners since 2018. What is unique about the Rethinking Recycling program is the full system approach coupled with on-the-ground impact and learning. I haven’t seen many organizations willing and able to deliver on both the ‘big picture thinking’ and the ‘roll up your sleeves and make it happen’ capabilities.

Rob Kaplan
Founder & CEO, Circulate Capital, and Delterra board member

Delterra brings a unique and structured approach to addressing a critical problem in many parts of the world. By working together with communities, they are developing and testing solutions to scale up recycling, prevent waste, and protect our environment. Their work is creating new opportunities for workers and communities, and helping companies like Amcor understand the opportunities for packaging in the recycling marketplace.

David Clark
Vice President, Sustainability, Amcor

Five years ago we embarked, as part of the City of Buenos Aires Government, on the Barrio Mugica integration project, an historic transformation of one the City’s most emblematic informal settlements. Although hard infrastructure issues were the most pressing ones, we strongly believed that inclusive, collaborative projects focused on sustainability also had their place.

Rethinking Recycling’s Barrio Mugica project is one of these highly successful initiatives. It partnered with City staff and 13 local labor cooperatives to provide the residents with door-to-door waste collection and recycling services: a win-win for everyone. Cooperatives now benefit from the income generated by the sale of recyclables and local residents are increasingly proud of their improved surroundings.

Donatella Orsi
Director of Economic Development, Ministry of Human Development, Buenos Aires City

Latest News

Stay informed and inspired with environmental reports, project updates, and stories about systems change from the people making it happen.
Environmental NGO, Delterra, Urges World Leaders To Focus on Reducing Methane Emissions From Waste
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Global environmental NGO Delterra, founded by McKinsey & Company, is today calling on world leaders gathered in Egypt for COP27 to take real action tackling methane emissions from waste to...
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Road to G20: Delterra, Minderoo and WWF Indonesia Announce Pledge to Scale Towards a More Circular Southern Bali
Nov 03, 2022 | 4 min read
Environmental nonprofit calls for partnerships and aggressive action to tackle the climate and waste crisis, aspiring to bring recycling and waste management services to 2.5 million people    Bali, Indonesia,...
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