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    Recyclables for Electricity Program Catches On

    By Keith R | November 25, 2008

    Topics: Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

    When the 10 winners for 2008 of the biennial World Business and Development Awards were announced a few weeks back, the Spanish energy conglomerate Endesa was one of the recipients for a program its subsidiaries run in two Brazilian states.  The program helps people pay for their power bills while promoting recycling.  While an interesting and worthy initiative, it is not unique and may not even be original, so why does Endesa gets the accolades for doing it while similar programs go unacknowledged?

    The Awards were created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 2000 to recognize the role of the private sector in achieving the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).  The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) became cosponsors later.

    Endesa won the award for a program conducted by its power distribution subsidiaries in the Brazilian states of Ceará (CE) and Rio de Janeiro (RJ).  In Ceará its subsidiary Coelce has created the Ecoelce (catch the nice play on words created by simply adding “e” to the front of the name?) program, wherein clients of its electricity services can bring in recyclables for credit on their power bill.  Ecoelce offers dozens of drop-off points, both fixed and mobile, within the capital, Fortaleza, and its Metropolitan Region, as well as a handful of others in the interior of the state.

    Clients — primarily poorer ones — get personalized electronic cards from the Ecoelce collections centers.  When a client brings in recyclables to the center, they are weighed and their value is calculated depending on type (aluminum cans or PET bottles, for example, get better values than cardboard).  The value is credited to the card, which can be used as discounts when the client goes to pay his/her electric bill.

    Endesa’s subsidiary in RJ, Ampla, has created a similar program, EcoAmpla, but with fewer collection posts.

    Cool, eh?  But not quite unique or original.  As I reported nearly two years ago here on The Temas Blog, the state government in Mato Grosso (MT) state set up a very similar program called “Vale Luz.”

    There are some important differences, though (beyond the fact that one is a govenrment-sponsored program, and the other a private sector program).  For one, Coelce and Ampla utilize the special credit cards — a neat innovation over the Vale Luz model.  For another, Coelce utilizes mobile collection points, and even has a mechanism for clients to request a new collection post in their neighborhood — two other nice enhancements.  And last but far from least, the Coelce and Ampla programs accept more than just used packaging (the focus of the Vale Luz program) — they’ll also accept used cooking oil (which will be sold to companies that make soap and biodiesel), and used lead-acid car batteries.  That is extremely useful!  Too bad they don’t also accept common batteries and used tires…

    I think those differences merit kudos to Endesa.  In fact, I’d like to see them extend the program to the other markets in which they operate in Latin America, namely Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru!

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