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Rethinking Recycling

An initiative of

Rethinking Recycling aims to empower every community to build green, inclusive, and economic recycling systems.

If recycled and repurposed, the intrinsic value of single-use plastic waste would top more than $100 billion globally.

Rethinking Recycling tackles the waste crisis by mobilizing players– from waste pickers to global multinational companies, to local and national governments – to work together to rethink the recycling marketplace so waste can be recycled and repurposed in more sustainable, economically viable ways.
Together with leading nonprofits, governments, and corporate partners, Rethinking Recycling is working in Bali, Indonesia, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, to develop and test scalable solutions that capture the value in waste and generate new opportunities for waste workers and communities.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

In 2019, Rethinking Recycling created the first recycling service in the informal settlement Barrio 31, working with 5,000 households and training more than 120 workers from eight cooperatives. As a result, community recycling rates rose from zero to 30 percent.

Bali, Indonesia

In Bali, Rethinking Recycling has been working with a community in the capital, Denpasar, creating a self-sustaining waste center to show how recycling can deliver both economic and environmental impact. It is now building an academy to teach other communities how to replicate this model and equip waste workers with good jobs in Indonesia.

Our impact


increase in wages of waste workers


people provided recycling service since 2019


average recycling rate (higher than most US cities)


Watch the story of Rethinking Recycling’s initial work in Barrio 31, an informal settlement in Buenos Aires.

The barrio is very close to our firm’s office—only ten blocks away. Seeing this change happening is very important for me.

Juan Musa McKinsey consultant and former Rethinking Recycling fellow, Buenos Aires

McKinsey’s role

Founded in 2018, is an incubator for new solutions to social issues. It works by applying McKinsey’s capabilities and by partnering with leaders from the private, public, and social sectors. McKinsey contributes financial and in-kind support to Rethinking Recycling.


2020 Social Responsibility Report

Learn how we are helping create positive, enduring change in the world