Our guests, Shannon Bouton, CEO of Delterra, and Ella Flaye, the organization’s regional director for Asia, lead the environmental nonprofit’s “rethinking recycling” initiative in emerging economies. Around the world, more than 2 billion people live without waste removal and recycling services. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Delterra’s recycling and waste management services have scaled over these last few years and currently serve nearly 50,000 people, with plans underway to reach a quarter of a million people by the end of 2022.
The nonprofit was incubated for three years and funded by the business consulting giant, McKinsey & Co. It has already diverted more than 1,000 tons of waste from landfills and the oceans while achieving up to 60% recycling participation rates in several Indonesian and Argentine slums, well above the U.S. recycling engagement levels.
Delterra’s first programs have also created livelihoods for more than 450 affiliated waste workers — a marginalized and often overlooked faction of essential workers — by providing them safe, fair, and dignified working conditions. We explore what they’ve learned during the organization’s early projects in Buenos Aires’ vast Barrio Mugica and in Indonesian communities, where low-income people, especially women, are working to organize recycling programs. You can learn more about the program at delterra.org.