The ecolones, a virtual green coin launched in Costa Rica last April, will promote recycling during the World Youth Day (WYD) to be held in Panama from the 22nd to the 27th. January and that will have the presence of Pope Francis.
The director of ecolones, Karla Chaves, explained to Acan-Efe that the WYD will mean the launching of the pilot plan of the program in Panama, which will be named ecobalboas, in reference to the name of the Panamanian currency.
"The city will receive a huge number of people, it is estimated that about 300,000 pilgrims for a week, and that will generate a giant amount of waste, especially plastic that if it does not have adequate treatment is likely to go to sea", Chaves said.
People can take recyclable waste to collection centers and receive in exchange ecobalboas, virtual currency that can then be exchanged for discounts or products from companies affiliated with the program, which will be announced in the coming days.
Costa Ricans attending WYD will be able to exchange their ecobalboas for ecolones in Costa Rica.
Chaves explained that the WYD organization has a very well planned waste collection program, so the ecobalboas will mean an added value and an additional incentive for people to decide to recycle.
"What we are going to do is add incentives of ecolones or ecobalboas so that people are interested in valuing the material that looks like garbage, but that is valuable and that can be reintegrated into the productive chain through recycling", she said.
Chaves said that ecolones or ecobalboas will facilitate their technological platform to "make visible the value of the material" and link to collection centers for materials.
"We will be an arm of information and support for WYD to strengthen the culture of recycling", she said.
Chaves highlighted that the initiative has been successful in Costa Rica and that the objective of the pilot plan in Panama will be to measure results and make adjustments so that the program consolidates permanently during the first semester of 2019, since there is great interest on the part of the companies.
According to Chaves, in addition to Panama, the objective is for the initiative to carry out its pilot plan in Peru and Guatemala in the first semester of 2019, and for the second semester in Jamaica, Colombia and Argentina, given the interest shown by various regional brands.
"There is a tendency of legislation in all countries on the manufacturer's extended liability, in which the producers of materials have the responsibility of returning the material to be recycled. The responsibility does not end when the consumer bought the product", she said.
In Costa Rica, the ecolones initiative receives from people products such as cardboard, glass, paper, plastic, tetra pak, aluminum, tin, plastic bags, and now cooking oils, and in return gives them the virtual currency as a way to encourage recycling and a green economy.
Ecolones is a public-private initiative of the company Próxima Comunicación in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the state program Bandera Azul Ecológica and companies.