Fortaleza: Valuing Waste Segregation and Recycling Habits

Having struggled with expensive and inefficient door-to-door recycling systems, the Brazilian coastal city of Fortaleza is piloting a value-based community recycling strategy. Currently rolled out in 24 neighborhoods throughout the city, Fortaleza offers transport and energy credits for citizens who correctly sort and recycle their waste at collection points. This approach was designed to create real behavioral changes and avoid waste to landfill.

40% increase in recycling is targeted by 2030


Since the start of the project in 2016, Recycling Fortaleza has led to 9,000 people practicing waste separation and disposal and more than 830 tons of waste being recycled rather than taken to landfill. Based on the success of the program thus far, the city intends to roll out collection points to a further 100 neighborhoods.

The challenge

Brazil has an overall recycling rate of around 1%. Improving this rate is crucial for reducing carbon emissions associated with landfill waste, as well as protecting Brazil’s natural environment from human-generated waste. Financial incentives for recycling can be a powerful tool for changing habits.


Economic Recycling Fortaleza distributes around $6,500 per month, mainly among the poorer communities of Fortaleza.

Environmental Fortaleza aims to increase composting of organic waste by 20% by 2020.

Social Participants sorted their waste into 33 types of household waste, demonstrating that behavioral change is possible in waste management.

  • Waste

  • Cities

  • Circular Economy

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