You know the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”?
Well, Bolivia has taken it to heart.
Submerged in an endless, stinking mass of garbage, the country has decided to get creative with it.
Each day, the capital city of La Paz – home to one million residents – churns out 500 tons of trash. All that solid waste gets dumped in landfills, where it sits and rots.
Not only is that terrible for the environment, it’s also wasting money.
Ruben Ledezma, Director of environmental company, Ema Verde, says, “The main part of this – 85% – is recyclable. In other words, we’re burying money – and furthermore, we’re paying to do it!”
Faced with that backwards logic, La Paz has embarked on an ambitious new recycling program.
It wants to be a zero-waste city by 2040. No mean feat, considering it’s a huge capital city.
But can it succeed?
From Useless Trash to Productive “Plastiwood”
Five years ago, La Paz decided to get serious about it waste problem.
Rather than just toss everything in the trash, it enlisted 250 public and private institutions to help separate recyclable material, so it can be turned into something useful.
In this case… furniture.
Here’s how it works…
Used plastic, paper, and cardboard is cleaned, crushed, ground up, and then heated in molds.
What emerges is a new product called “plastiwood.”
As the name suggests, it’s a combination of plastic and wood, which is being used to make school furniture like chairs and tables.
So aside from the environmental and financial benefits, it’s also educational, as children get to see direct, tangible results from their recycling efforts.
And far from being difficult or a hassle, the project is proving a hit with La Paz residents, too. They say more companies in the city should embrace this green, productive initiative, as La Paz bids to become an unprecedented zero-waste city.