Recycling in Santiago

Just a quick post, but at least this time it’ll be both informative and Chile-related! Something that never fails to kill me a little bit inside here is the lack of recycling. I’m from California, where the recycling pick up comes every week just like a trash pick up, and where throwing a can in the regular old garbage pretty much makes you a bad person. Here if you want to recycle, you have to make an effort. I’ve never heard of a recycling pick up, and although the city does have glass receptacles – those big green domes you may have seen around Santiago – it’s hard to find places to recycle other materials. The comuna of Vitacura has the reasonably well-known Punto Limpio* where you can recycle pretty much anything and everything, but not everyone can get there easily.

So I was excited to find the following link with maps of Santiago and markers denoting recycling spots for all kinds of materials. I hope it’s helpful to other residents and encourages more people to recycle! It’s still not as convenient as a pick up, but you can always do what Rodolfo and I do which is save your recyclables (please note, if you ever come over and see lots of bottles, we’re not alcoholics, we’ve just haven’t dropped off the recycling for a while!) and make a big run every once in a while. It’s also interesting to me that here certain types of recycling benefit certain organizations. For example, those green domes for glass support CODEFF (National Committee in Defense of Flora and Fauna) while paper and carboard recycling helps Fundación San José, an adoption program. Enjoy!

Quiero Reciclar – where to recycle in Santiago

*In searching for a link to Vitacura’s Punto Limpio, I found out that they also offer a house-to-house recycling pick up every other week but only in the Santa María neighborhood. At least it’s a start! If you’d like to read more about Punto Limpio, here’s an article from newspaper El Mercurio (in Spanish).

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6 Responses to “Recycling in Santiago”

  1. I really miss recycling pick up here as well. We even had it in good ol’ KY. :)

    One thing that has been a very postive though and renews my hope is that they put recycling bins with all the appropriate categories in the parking lot of the supermarket here. At least we can now take things there even if there isn’t pick up.

  2. Clare says:

    I have a chilean friend whose dream it is to create a recycling program like in the states. Only, in his empresa, people who don’t want to seperate can hire people to seperate for them (eww). Anyways, he says it will never fly. See garbage companies are paid by the ton, so anyone who come along and proposes something else gets squashed by the political machine that is the garbage companies.

  3. “I’m from California, where the recycling pick up comes every week just like a trash pick up, and where throwing a can in the regular old garbage pretty much makes you a bad person.”

    Is this specific to California? I thought it was like that pretty much everywhere. It has been in Michigan and Florida, at least.

    Clare, why does it not surprise me that there’s a political reason behind it all.

  4. Emily says:

    Kyle, I wasn’t sure about other states…I imagined that by now most places in the US offer recycling pick up, but I didn’t want to generalize and then have some Chilean who’d lived in Arkansas tell me that the US is just as bad as Chile about recycling (no offense to Arkansas).

    And Clare, that is interesting to know. Always great when politics wins out over common sense and trying not to totally screw the planet.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! E. and I have been holding our cans and plastics and wondering if there are recycling locations here.

    There seems to be more glass containers around than anything.

  6. […] blogged: This weekend we had probably the most difficult recycling experience of our lives. Recycling in Santiago already isn’t particularly easy… There is still a pilgrimage involved – none of this home […]


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