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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 an 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 emerging economies. 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:

250K
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.
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.

Civic Response Team
The Civic Response Team (CRT) is a social enterprise specializing in evidence-driven, systems-level approaches to solid waste management. CRT has designed, built, and scaled an innovative methodology called the BOTRAM SWM Transformation Method, which has enabled high rates of source-separated waste collection and recycling in communities and Urban Local Bodies across the state of Maharashtra in India. CRT brings expertise in designing rapid behavior change campaigns, route mapping and optimization for collection systems, partnering with stakeholders in complex systems, implementing Extended Producer Responsibility frameworks, and working with the informal sector to building sustainable, efficient, equitable, and scalable models of solid waste management.
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.
ELI – Environmental Law Institute
The Environmental Law Institute makes law work for people, places, and the planet. With its non-partisan, independent approach, ELI promotes solutions to tough environmental problems. The Institute’s unparalleled research and highly respected publications inform the public debate and build the institutions needed to advance sustainable development.
Ocean Conservancy
Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for a healthy ocean free of trash and plastic since 1986, when we launched our International Coastal Cleanup. Since then, we have mobilized millions of volunteers to remove trash from waterways around the world while pioneering upstream solutions to this crisis. We invest in cutting-edge scientific research, implement on-the-ground projects, and work with conservationists, scientists, governments, industry, and consumers to change the plastics paradigm.
Scale360°

Scale360° is a World Economic Forum initiative that fosters innovation in cities, countries and regions worldwide, bringing together leaders in science, policy and business to trigger inclusive circular change. The program is active in more than 20 countries around the world with participants using Scale360°’s unique, tested methodology – the Scale360° Circular Innovation Playbook – to deploy Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to rethink consumption and production.

Waste Concern
Founded in 1995, Waste Concern conducts research, training, and experiments in solid waste management, recycling, sanitation, and the circular economy, among other topics. Waste Concern innovated the design, construction and operation of integrated resource recovery centers (IRRCs) for developing country contexts, which convert waste into fertilizer, biogas, and other recycled products using a public-private partnership approach, and has assisted cities in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam in replicating the IRRC model. Waste Concern has gained global recognition, including awards from the United Nations Development Program, Tech Museum, Schwab Foundation, and Ashoka.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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
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.

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.
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

Stay informed and inspired with environmental reports, project updates, and stories about systems change from the people making it happen.
New, environmental nonprofit Delterra adopts McKinsey.org’s Rethinking Recycling as its first flagship initiative
Oct 11, 2021 | 4 min read

McKinsey & Company is a founding partner of the environmental nonprofit, and will continue its support of the Rethinking Recycling initiative.

Today the new, independent environmental…

Rethinking Recycling is now the flagship initiative of a new, independent nonprofit Delterra!
Oct 04, 2021 | 1 min read

 

Rethinking Recycling now has a new home – Delterra.

Delterra is an independent environmental non-profit, whose vision is a world where human activities protect…

Meet Rethinking Recycling team members who are making environmentally sustainable choices in their personal lives
Jul 08, 2021 | 6 min read

Happy #PlasticFreeJuly everyone! This month commemorates the growing global movement where individuals are challenged to reduce their everyday consumption of single-use plastic. As you know, our team members help manage…

Rethinking Recycling Academy and Plastic Smart Cities Initiative, partner to transform waste management system in Ubung Kaja, Bali
May 25, 2021 | 4 min read

Denpasar, Indonesia (25/3) – Rethinking Recycling Academy, a recently-launched capacity building program of McKinsey.org, has partnered with Plastic Smart Cities Initiative to transform the waste management ecosystem in the village…

Reimagining Community Education in Bali to drive better Recycling behaviors
Mar 18, 2021 | 4 min read

Recycling in Indonesia is broken. Use of single-use plastic is surging and landfills are overflowing into surrounding communities, causing widespread environmental, economic and social damage. In Bali over 80% of…

Co-designing with the community, for the community in Argentina
Mar 10, 2021 | 3 min read
A behind the scenes look at the launch of GIRO’s first pilot in Olavarría

This week our Argentina team launched their first pilot of the GIRO recycling program in Olavarría. For…

Press Release: CLOCC partners with the Rethinking Recycling Academy to develop digital training materials for recycling and waste management systems in Indonesia
Feb 17, 2021 | 3 min read

Denpasar, Indonesia / Oslo, Norway, February 17, 2021 – Clean Oceans through Clean Communities (CLOCC), owned by Avfall Norge has partnered with the Rethinking Recycling Academy, the recently-launched capacity building program…

Celebrating Women in Science That are Tackling Today’s Global Challenges
Feb 11, 2021 | 7 min read

 

At McKinsey.org, part of our mission and approach to problem solving is “developing, testing and scaling solutions”, so it’s no wonder that our President & CEO, Shannon Bouton, is…

COVID’s Hidden Frontline in Indonesia
Dec 17, 2020 | 3 min read

By: Ella Flaye, Regional Director – Asia

2020 has been an extraordinary year for all us – a year which feels like the world paused whilst it grapples with a global…

2020 Impact: Reimagining Sustainability Systems
Dec 16, 2020 | 1 min read

 

Please note all mentions of McKinsey.org are due to the fact that Rethinking Recycling was incubated and scaled under McKinsey.org for 3 years, before…
Building A New Path Forward in 2020 For Impact in Argentina
Dec 14, 2020 | 5 min read

By: Cristina Domecq, Senior Associate, Behavior Change

Like so many nonprofits around the world, we began 2020 with big plans and high hopes for how we would reshape environmental and…

Breakthrough behavior change: lessons from Civic Response Team in India
Dec 02, 2020 | 10 min read

Behavior change is at the forefront of global discourse like never before, but remains difficult to achieve in practice. Creative strategies developed in emerging-economy contexts, like Civic Response Team’s approach…