Through strategic partnerships in Brazil and South Africa, Dow has helped create jobs, education and infrastructure for more efficient waste management, in turn generating sustainable ripple effects throughout the regions.
Recycling for a Change
Working to put plastic back into a circular economy has given Dow an opportunity to develop partnerships with innovative organizations across the industry.
One example is a project called Recycling for a Change, which Dow has funded through Fundación Avina and Boomera in Brazil. Recycling for a Change supports local employment, livable wages, and a circular economy — in a country that only recycles three percent of its waste.
The program has helped elevate waste-pickers in cooperatives in Brazil from undervalued laborers to skilled professionals; and has contributed to an increase of up to 70 percent in recycled goods, and a 50 percent increase in the sales of recyclables within the benefitted cooperatives. Testing the program’s merits in Brazil’s largest waste-producing city, São Paulo, has produced rapid improvements in productivity, income and social impact value for workers and communities. Read more about how the program is creating a prototype for a sustainable ecosystem and employment in Brazil.
Catalyzing community action for recycling
Working with leading NGOs and recyclers in Africa — including WILDTRUST, Mr. Green Africa and the ChildFund — Dow’s latest development for Project Butterfly offers an example of how to develop sustainable communities.
Introduced in 2017, in the township of Tembisa, Johannesburg, Project Butterfly works with non-profit organizations and local communities to tackle poor waste management through education, clean-ups and recycling-focused initiatives. Currently active in South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria, Project Butterfly aims to preserve the environment for future generations by reshaping how communities perceive and engage with plastic waste. The initiative supports Dow’s ambition to advance a circular economy for Africa — one that redesigns, recycles, reuses and remanufactures to keep materials at their highest value use for as long as possible.
At the heart of Project Butterfly is the idea that people can repurpose waste into something with social and economic value. In 2018, Project Butterfly teamed up with WILDTRUST — a leading South African environmental non-profit with three main subsidiaries: WILDLANDS, WILDOCEANS and WILDENTERPRISE — to create a program that would empower local entrepreneurs, known as ‘wastepreneurs,’ to collect plastic and other recyclable materials in their villages, and exchange materials for much-needed cash. One wastepreneur, Duduzile Magubane, has shared that the increase of income through the sale of recyclables “has helped me to survive” and provide for his children.
The program also evaluates opportunities to change how people handle waste through clean-ups, education and local infrastructure upgrades. In Nairobi, Project Butterfly provides easy-to-access recycling bins to drop off waste in villages alongside sorting centers that process materials back into the value chain. In South Africa, the program has reached more than 10,000 homes to collect 2.6 million pounds of waste in local villages. Read more about how Project Butterfly has helped make communities more sustainable across Africa.