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mai 03, 2018
Innovation and technology

Brazil’s "Recycling Tinder” wins innovation award in Paris

Revolutionary app Cataki, which pairs people with rubbish to recycle with one of Brazil’s 800,000 waste-pickers, was presented with the 2018. Netexplo Innovation Award at an event in Paris. A self-confessed “Tinder for recycling”, citizens post whenever they have recyclable material to be collected, and waste-pickers then scroll through the app, choosing which jobs they would like to take on.
 
Waste-pickers in Brazil collect approximately 90% of all recycled material in Brazil, and the individuals live on the income they make from selling the waste they collect. As an example, plastic and paper are worth around 20 Brazilian centavos per kilo, while glass sells for 5 centavos a kilo.
"We’re fighting for the recognition of waste-pickers, who are true environmental agents," said graffiti artist and activist Mundano, the creator of Cataki. "The app is an alternative to increase the income of waste-pickers along with priceless environmental benefits."
 
Since the app’s launch in July 2017, more than 1,000 households and 300 waste-pickers across Brazil have signed up to Cataki. In future updates to the app, users will be able to upload pictures of their recyclable waste, allowing waste-pickers to swipe through their options, just like dating apps such as Tinder.
 
The app cost BRL 160,000 to develop, and is backed by non-governmental organization Pimp My Carroça, which fights for the visibility for waste-pickers, by way of actions which promote their self-esteem and raise the awareness of society to their cause.
The idea for Cataki came from Mundano's contact with waste-pickers. "Lots of people would come and ask me for recommendations for collection, so I would distribute contacts," he explained. “From this demand (…) I had the idea to create a platform to facilitate this 'match’ between waste-pickers and the people who need their services."
 
Netexplo (previously known as Netexplorateur) is an independent digital tech observatory based in Paris, France, which since 2007 has studied the impact of technology on an increasingly digital society. Every year, the organization, in partnership with Unesco, selects ten innovative projects out of a total of 2,000. This year, Cataki was among the winners, announced at an awards ceremony at Unesco’s headquarters in Paris.
 
According to Netexplo director Marcus Goddard, Cataki represents an effective use of technology with a wide reach. "It’s a very simple app to connect people, and it is very socially relevant as an integration tool between different social classes," he told the Brazilian press in February.
"[Waste-picking] is an informal parallel economy that guarantees the recycling of tons of waste in Brazil," Goddard continued. “Though the waste-pickers are essential, they aren't acknowledged for their work."