NCBA Clusa launches plastic recycling project to protect seas of Ecuador

The Usaid-funded project will use circular economy solutions to reduce marine plastic pollution around Manabí province and the Galapagos Islands

An international co-operative initiative to protect the oceans from plastic pollution has been launched in Ecuador, the US co-op apex NCBA Clusa has announced.

The Recycling, Adaptation, Development, Adjustment and Renewal (Radar) project will be carried out Ecuador’s coastal province Manabí and island territory Galápagos to improve existing systems for solid waste management, with a focus on building a circular economy.

Over the next five years, the project will create business opportunities for communities, including informal recyclers, and help residents reduce and classify waste effectively.

NCBA Clusa signed a co-operation agreement with the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) for the project in February. Since then, the Radar team has met with local authorities in the North Pacific Community of Manabí (Manpanor) and the cantons of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal in Galápagos. 

The Radar team visited local areas’ recycling centres and landfills, and found that recycling centres are facing significant challenges due to poor infrastructure and equipment, while landfill sites are overflowing due to the daily influx of solid waste. 

The team also found that centre staff members were working in unsafe conditions, while informal collectors have no support and face abuse as they search for materials to make a living from. 

Radar communication specialist Margarita Izquierdo said that working alongside waste collectors reveals the “deeply human dimension” of the challenge.

“Interacting with these people reveals not only their struggles and challenges, but also their resilience, ingenuity and inherent dignity,” she added.

“Their stories, aspirations and daily struggles underline the importance of not only addressing environmental issues, but also social and economic inequalities.

“This comprehensive approach offers us a great opportunity to witness first-hand the human face of sustainability efforts—fostering empathy, understanding and our shared commitment to creating a more equitable and fair society.”