CRCLR went to Chile!


Wadzi Motsi-Khatai





In April, CRCLR joined a German delegation traveling to Chile as part of an initiative by the EU Commission to promote knowledge exchanges on sustainable urban development. The City to City exchange program connected the Berlin district of Neukölln to the city of San Pedro de la Paz in Chile, bringing together city officials, circular economy innovators, and community members in a week long dialogue about urban transitions, and circular cities.

Chile is the world’s second largest producer of wood, and high electricity costs have made it an easy and primary source of energy for communities in San Pedro de la Paz. The excessive burning of wood has resulted in persistent smog, and wood dumping in the city. City officials highlighted this challenge as they described their vision to develop affordable alternatives for green energy sources, improve waste management and minimize dumping throughout the city as well as strengthen the overall infrastructure to become more circular. Frau Simon und Frau Hein, from the Neukölln Bezirksamt in turn, shared Berlin-Neukölln’s learnings in the recycling and waste management space and exchanging ideas for potential solutions to address San Pedro de la Paz’s challenges.

The city exchange showed that despite the leaps made by Berlin in it’s recycling, zero waste, and circular initiatives, there is still much to learn and a lot of work to do. The visit to Chile put a spotlight on the similarity in the challenges we all face, regardless of country, to shift the paradigm and create more circular cities.

But there is a lot of hope, too! The drive, energy and spirit of the circular economy community in San Pedro de la Paz, and Santiago de Chile, was an inspiring learning opportunity, re-confirming the immense power of people that are passionate about their community. Alice and Janna from the CRCLR team were blown away time and time again as they met several innovative circular economy projects and organizations in Chile rethinking energy, waste management and recycling in their various businesses. Their efforts ranged from using waste collected from oceans to create 100% recycled surfboards and to developing solar-powered transportation alternatives in collaboration with children from the community (check below for a complete list of organizations and initiatives). Ultimately, we left Chile having built new and lasting connections, gained a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for circular economy in San Pedro de la Paz and Berlin, and with the renewed determination to challenge ourselves always, in the quest to develop a more sustainable and circular Berlin.

Check out these organizations:

  • Energizate work on democratizing sustainable tech! They build solar-powered carts, bikes and cars with kids empowering the next generation to not just consume but build, repair and use technology.
  • Das8 produces beautiful products from collected, cleaned and sorted plastic waste. Thus giving it a colorful second life.
  • Sustenabla works with volunteers to clean up contaminated sites and collect plastic waste. So far they have collected 5 tons and with that produced 400 surfboards made of 100% recyclables!
  • Idea_Tec found a way to upcycle used styrofoam EPS into ressin for the production of industrial paint. This way a material that prior went to the dump gets a second and pretty colorful life.