Interview with Daniel Rodriguez Paredes –General director of Amazóniko- collaborative recycling platform
Can you tell us more about Amazóniko and How did you get an idea to create it?
Amazóniko is a collaborative recycling platform that connects households, waste pickers, industry and commerce to give reusable materials a second life, promote responsible consumption and dignify collectors working conditions. We give to our users redeemable points in exchange of their recyclable material that can be used to obtain benefits or discounts on associated brands on our market place.
Recycling has been always something present in my life and as I grew up, seeing the enormous impact of bad waste management on our environment I realize I got to do something else than just worrying about it. Recyclable materials come from natural resources and properly managed are not trash but material that has a value, so that was my first approach turning those solid waste materials into a payment method so people could understand how precious those elements are.
How is the situation in Colombia regarding recycling, how people have accepted your application in general?
Recycling sector in Colombia probably reflects the reality of south America in general, low citizen participation, low working conditions for waste pickers and high informality in waste market, those are the common aspects that are not allowing thousands of tons to be transformed and reused instead of collapse waste landfills and affect environment. Colombia have around 32.000 waste pickers dedicated to recover materials from the streets but just about 5.000 are “formalized” in any way, there are no major incentives for a proper waste separation at the source neither strong normative sanctions for not doing so. Up to date, Amazóniko has 6100 registered households and 12 waste pickers covering our daily routes.
How many users are using you app in total and monthly ?
We are gaining new users every day, our new members increase rate is about 14% we are doing and average of 1000 individual material collection every month that accounts for more than 2,4 tons of reusable material.
In your application there are points that you can earn by recycling, and which you can exchange for the awards? Can you tell us few examples of these awards?
Yes, part of our model is based on disruptive communication to drive and measure behavioral changes in sustainability terms, so the “punishment-reward” dynamic enters into play here, our waste pickers qualify every material collection with customized feedback and a 1 to 5 stars rate so you can understand how well you do and being able to identify possible improvement points. With those earned e-coins our users gain access to a market place designed to bring sustainable options through ally brands for helping our planet from the commodity of our house, a wide range of different products that goes from biodegradable personal healthcare products, clean mobility, clothing made out of plastic fibers to bulk market or responsible fishing brands.
Congratulations for winning 2018 SEED Low Carbon Award. Can you tell us more about this award?
Thanks, SEED is an organization that is based on the understanding that the promotion of social and environmental entrepreneurship is pivotal for environmentally friendly and socially inclusive development and poverty reduction. We won a cash prize on 2018 but more importantly accompaniment from the organization for improving our business model and actually we are still working along with them on a replicator program were entrepreneurs from Ghana, South Africa, India, Indonesia contact us for exploring the usage of our app into their markets.
How do you see the future of Amazóniko, and future of recycling in Colombia?
We are channeling ourselves to be the #1 app for helping and measure sustainable behaviors from home, collect other types of waste such as organics, clothing, electronics, and helping households to be eco-friendlier in every aspect. It is a big challenge specially for the waste pickers inclusion into the system but it is also an opportunity to show how technology is able to solve more efficiently social and environmental issues. We strongly believe that differential communication is the key for creating this digital community towards recycling.
Do you think to export your idea to other countries in S. America and further?
Yes, is in our mid-terms goals to explore new markets in S. America, probably starting with Perú or Argentina where we have seen similar conditions and also a really good response to our model. By now we are focusing on expanding our operations to main cities in Colombia and the projects for implementing it on Ho, Ghana, or Yakarta in Indonesia.