New Santiago recycling scheme to help one million Chileans go green

The residents of La Granja, Peñalolen and La Florida districts on the southeastern edge of the capital will be able to recycle as much as 10 percent of their waste at the new ecological outdoor center.

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Spread around the southern and eastern periphery of Santiago, three of the capital’s largest districts—La Granja, La Florida and Peñalolen—will soon be home to the city’s newest green initiative.

The 600,000 square feet. (56,000 sq m) Ecopark, roughly the size of central Santiago’s Parque Forestal, will follow the northern embankment of the Macul gully, revitalizing a zone that has been vacant since a 1993 flood claimed 26 lives and affected 4,000 others. With the new recycling center at its heart, the park will also include an open-air amphitheater with capacity for 500, sports fields, picnic zones, bicycle paths and an extreme biking circuit.

Together, the three districts that will be served by the green space are home to about 1 million residents, roughly one-sixth the population of the Metropolitan Region, each of whom produces more than two pounds (1 kg) of waste daily. In an interview with Chilean daily La Tercera, District Counselor for La Florida Rodolfo Carter said that the district spends rougly US$7 million (CP$ 3.5 billion) on waste collection annually. “With the future Ecopark we can save 10 percent of that amount and reinvest it in the community,” he says.

The recycling center will have separate receptacles for 15 different kinds of waste, from the traditional paper, glass and plastics, to organic waste, wood and batteries. Between the waste repositories, separation center and compacting zone, the Ecopark’s recycling center will have a capacity ten times that of the similar center that opened in Vitacura in 2006, which today collects more than 1 million kilos annually.

Outside the park itself, the initiative will include the introduction of 20 smaller recycling points in each of the three districts. These points, scattered throughout the neighborhoods, will have basic recycling containers, the contents of which will be moved weekly to the recycling center in the Ecopark.

Construction is planned to begin in 2012 and finish in 2013 with a final cost of around US$20.5 million (CP$10 billion). Proceeds made from the sale of compacted materials to processing companies will be used to maintain the park, while educational programs and tours through the recycling facility will be offered to raise awareness and promote understanding of the recycling process in the community.

This post is also available in Spanish