Installing a Recycling System in Puerto Natales
Located in Chilean Patagonia, the city of Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Puerto Natales is home to 20,000 people; however, park visitation results in an additional 200,000 visitors flowing through the city annually. This population generates a substantial amount of waste. The town’s waste problem is exacerbated by the limited disposal options, lack of a recycling infrastructure, and minimal waste awareness within the local community. Historically, all of Puerto Natales’ waste has either been dumped illegally or sent to the ever-expanding landfill on the outskirts of town. As visitation to Torres del Paine continues to rapidly grow, there is an ever-increasing need for waste reduction and waste management solutions in the surrounding community.
What We're Doing
To address the growing needs in the Torres del Paine region, Sustainable Travel International partnered with the Fink Family Foundation to develop and manage the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund. With a goal of enhancing the long-term health of Torres del Paine National Park and its surrounding communities, the Legacy Fund supports local community development and conservation projects.
In 2015, the Legacy Fund provided $6,000 to support installation of the town’s first permanent recycling program. There are now 15 collection points throughout Puerto Natales where residents and visitors can dispose of their recyclables. From there, the materials are collected, sorted, and processed by a local recycling company on a weekly basis. Since 2015, Puerto Natales has seen a 600 percent increase in recycling. The Legacy Fund’s future plans for the recycling program include supporting its ongoing operation, expanding collection capacity, raising community awareness, and increasing household participation.