We are requesting proposals from interested parties to create a website for a brand with an established brand narrative and a brand style guide.

BACKGROUND is an independent non-profit founded in 2018 by McKinsey & Company to address the world’s most complex social and environmental challenges by partnering across sectors to create lasting and substantial impact. 

Rethinking Recycling – our flagship program – aims to dramatically improve recycling systems in cities around the world so that they are truly economically sustainable, socially inclusive, and environmentally beneficial – thus accelerating the transition to a zero-waste, circular economy. We focus particularly on plastics and organics (food and garden waste) in the post-consumer waste stream, which together drive much of the waste pollution crisis and its contribution to climate change.

 Rethinking Recycling has three major components, aimed at overcoming the vicious cycle of poor supply and inadequate demand for recycled material that plagues most cities today:

  • We improve supply of recyclable waste at the source through better design of collection systems and behavioral nudges.
  • We build community recycling systems that drive cost efficiency and ethical operations in sorting, logistics, and processing of recyclable waste.
  • We work to stabilize recycling demand and unlock better pricing by streamlining and bringing transparency to the full recycling value chain.

Our goal is to create a rapidly replicable model for managing waste that cities around the world will adopt.  We currently have programs in three locations: Buenos Aires and Olavarria in Argentina and Bali in Indonesia. Read more about our work on our current website.

In the future, has ambitions to diversify to other causes and programs. 


  • An entirely new website with complete UX, UI, front-end and backend build, leveraging an established brand narrative and a brand style guide
  • Detailed benchmark and best practices review of our top 5-7 peer organisations’ websites to inform our website concept development
  • Deliver 3-4 concept designs and online visual identities to iterate over 2-3 rounds with the team before initiating development of wireframes and site architecture
  • Develop wireframes and site architecture to show content strategy, placement with 2-3 rounds of revisions 
  • Develop user design archetype and user journeys, especially for fundraising with 2-3 rounds of revisions
  • High quality copywriting of the end-to-end website content, leveraging existing materials, to simplify hard to grasp ideas, with 2-3 rounds for content and placement revisions
  • Launch of website, incl. testing before and after launch
  • Training of relevant team members on website content, navigation and media updates and routine maintenance
  • After project completion, handover of source code, master files and hosting credentials


  • Fully responsive layout to fit mobile, tablet, desktop and other leading device types
  • Default geo-specific language functionality; additional toggle functionality between at least English, Bahasa and Spanish with options to add additional languages in the future. 
  • 5-6 core sections and content pages
  • Additional functionalities must include at least: ability to add/edit our list of funders/partners; ability to publish blogs; ability to add multiple types of pages including landing pages; add multimedia to pages; fundraising and payment functionality; contact us form; sign-up for newsletter functionality; live-feed of content from select social media handles
  • High performance across KPIs of responsiveness, speed of loading etc. (i.e., top quartile against industry and peer websites)
  • SEO optimized website and content, incl. having Google analytics installed and   configured
  • Meets at least WCAG2.1 AA accessibility guidelines
  • Complies with all relevant laws and regulations around GDPR and data privacy
  • Built in a manner so that the team can easily update all pages including homepage in the future
  • Given that in the future, has ambitions to diversify to other causes and programs, the website should be built with that expansion in mind. 

WAY OF WORKING is committed to working in a collaborative way that allows for upfront strategic alignment, frequent sharing of feedback and iterative manner of working. In turn, we expect high quality draft outputs to react to and provide feedback on.

The selected firm will be available for regularly scheduled weekly or periodical programmed phone calls and as needed with the rest of the team to ensure consistent communication and alignment on active tasks and deliverables. The firm will also provide activity reports on an agreed upon schedule (usually on a weekly basis).


End-to-end Statement of Work to be completed in no more than 6-8 weeks. 

IP OWNERSHIP retains the rights to all customer data and personally identifiable information (PII) entered into the website


Proposals should be concise and limited to information requested, no longer than 8 ppt pages for the main body and not more than 15 pages for appendix. Each proposal shall include the following information. In the main body, besides an introduction to your organisation and its work, please make sure to include the following:

  • Work plan: Provide a plan for delivering the features outlined in the Statement of Work, including timelines, deliverables, and expected results.
  • Costs: Submit a detailed line-by-line cost proposal to deliver the Statement of Work. Include any purchasing of plug-ins and stock photos as part of the proposal. Include platform hosting costs as a distinct line item. State preferred payment terms, specifying share of upfront payment expected.  Cost proposals must include all costs that will be incurred including any projected additional reimbursable costs. Please use the attached budget template to submit the cost estimates. In the event that you can not access the budget template, please visit our website which has the RFP and the budget template. 
  • Schedule: Provide a schedule outlining key milestones related to the scope of work and estimated date of completion.
  • Team: Include a list of proposed personnel who will work on the project, allocations of time each person will work on the project and the corresponding hourly or daily rates.

In the Appendix please include,

  • Qualifications: Provide resumes of the key personnel to be assigned to the project and list their portfolio within the last three years.
  • Language: Please also mention support staff fluency in Spanish and/or Bahasa as that is considered a plus (English required) 
  • Case examples or samples: Provide examples or visual samples of relevant project experience. Experience in website development and content writing for the nonprofit sector a plus
  • Location: Physical presence in North America, Australia, SE Asia and/or South America a plus
  • Additional services (optional): Include any related and recommended services not specified in this RFP which may be considered essential or beneficial by the firm. These services should be priced separately.
  • References: Provide 3 professional references including name and daytime contact information

An electronic version of the proposal must be submitted to Aishwarya Sharma at 


Bidders can submit questions in one sending to Aishwarya Sharma by 05 April 2021 at By submitting questions, bidder acknowledges that their questions will be collated into a document of all questions and answers, to be posted for viewing by all bidders.

  • Answers will be provided within 72 hours.
  • All proposals must be received by 09 April 2021 by 5pm EST
  • The criteria for evaluation is how well a proposal addresses the various sections of this RFP i.e. Statement of work, technical requirements, cost, prior relevant experience, robustness of work plan, timelines etc. These criteria will be used by the Project Team to determine, in its sole judgement, the most qualified firm.
  • It is the responsibility of the firm submitting a proposal to ensure that the proposal is delivered on time. Any proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.
  • The Project Team reserves the right to reject any or all proposals with or without cause.


The selection of a firm will be made based on experience and qualifications; ability of proposed approach to meet the needs of the organization; and cost effectiveness. The finalist agencies will be notified by 23 April 2021 and will be asked to respond to final negotiation requests and questions based on the review provided by the team. The selected company will commence work on 10 May 2021 unless otherwise negotiated. reserves the right to push back any of the above dates as per its discretion. 

View the budget template

Rethinking Recycling Academy and Plastic Smart Cities Initiative, partner to transform waste management system in Ubung Kaja, Bali

Denpasar, Indonesia (25/3) – Rethinking Recycling Academy, a recently-launched capacity building program of, has partnered with Plastic Smart Cities Initiative to transform the waste management ecosystem in the village of Ubung Kaja in Bali, Indonesia. Plastic Smart Cities (PSC) is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative working with cities worldwide to keep plastic out of nature.

Ubung Kaja is a village of over 20,000 people, located in central Denpasar, the capital of Bali. “Since I was a child, there has been a lot of change. When I was in elementary school there was no pollution. We didn’t even wear shoes to walk around the village.” said I Wayan Astika, the Head of Ubung Kaja village. “After 30 years, it has all changed. It is extraordinary and very sad to see such a change.” 

Troubled by the conditions in his village, Astika was ready to take action when the Rethinking Recycling Academy approached him with the opportunity to join its first cohort. “I saw the [issues in my village] that the Academy was trying to solve. By joining the Academy [I wanted to see]… how can we return the environment to be safe and clean. How can we teach our children and grandchildren so that they are not exposed to trash and pollution.”

In partnership with PSC, the Rethinking Recycling Academy aims to empower Ubung Kaja to build a green, inclusive and economic recycling ecosystem. Ella Flaye,’s Regional Director for Asia explains the key tenets of the Rethinking Recycling Academy, “The Rethinking Recycling Academy aims to provide a holistic solution that sets communities up for success. Our program works directly with communities to provide training and capability building programs to transform the waste and recycling systems right at their front door. Where we see challenges, we look to build solutions!” 

When Ubung Kaja joined the Academy, its material recovery facility (MRF), locally known as a TPS3R, was barely functioning, covering only 80 out of the 20,000 people living in the village. Since September 2020, the Rethinking Recycling Academy has worked with the village leadership, community leaders, operational managers and waste workers to transform operations at their TPS3R including community education and improving working conditions. 

“Waste produced by the community does not need to become garbage… Waste that is created can be turned into an asset,” said Astika. “Not all waste is dirty, some waste can become a commodity… and at the same time it becomes our income for the organizers, the village, and the environment.” Since the start of the transformation, Ubung Kaja has taken its first steps to economic sustainability by reorganizing their organics recycling operations to start processing and selling compost, returning this once wasted organic material into productive use.

“PSC Initiative aims to reduce plastic waste going into the environment by addressing major leakage points at city level and its urban surrounding,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Head of Footprint and Market Transformation, Yayasan WWF Indonesia. “By supporting a model of sustainable TPS 3R in Ubung Kaja Village, the community will directly contribute to the reduction of plastic marine debris coming from this area. It also serves as a model that can become a blueprint that will guide city-wide actions to improve waste management policies and infrastructure.” 

The Rethinking Recycling Academy and PSC began the partnership by supporting this iconic tourism destination that is threatened by plastic pollution. We are excited to walk hand-in-hand as partners to continue Ubung Kaja’s transformation and to drive meaningful environmental and social impact.

About Rethinking Recycling  
Rethinking Recycling is the flagship program of, whose goal is to drive lasting and substantial impact on some of the World’s most complex social challenges. The organization partners with leaders from the private, public and social sectors to accelerate systemic change. Rethinking Recycling is tackling the waste crisis by mobilizing every player in the system – from waste workers to multinational companies, from village leaders to National Ministers. The Rethinking Recycling Academy, launched its first cohort in September 2020 training six communities in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, where only a small fraction of the population recycles their waste today. |  I  Facebook  I  Twitter  I  YouTube I  Instagram 

About Plastic Smart Cities
Plastic Smart Cities is a WWF initiative working with cities worldwide to keep plastic out of nature. Since 2018, the initiative supports cities and coastal centres that are taking bold action to stop plastic pollution. WWF is working with 25 pilot cities to achieve a 30% reduction in plastic leakage by 2025, through better waste management and advancing circular economy. Together, we aim to achieve 1000 plastic-smart cities globally to join this movement by 2030. For more information, visit

About Yayasan WWF Indonesia
Yayasan WWF Indonesia is a civil society organization with local legal entity and global network, supported by more than 100,000 supporters. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. I  Facebook  I  Twitter  I  YouTube I  Instagram | Line Friends WWF Indonesia

Reimagining Community Education in Bali to drive better Recycling behaviors

Why we need better recycling behaviors  

Recycling in Indonesia is broken. Use of single-use plastic is surging and landfills are overflowing into surrounding communities, causing widespread environmental, economic and social damage. In Bali over 80% of waste is unsorted and items like glass, paper and plastic, which could be easily recycled, end up in landfills or leak into the oceans and the environment. 

Rethinking Recycling believes that behavior change is critical to solving the waste crisis and fixing the broken recycling value chain. Households are the critical first step in the value chain where the fate of waste is decided, whether it will be recycled and put back into productive use or sent to landfill. By instilling waste sorting into the culture of a community and the habits of its residents, Rethinking Recycling believes that it can significantly reduce the amount of productive waste sent to landfill. 

The Rethinking Recycling program not only focuses on improving source separation rates, but also the quality of the separation. Oftentimes, even if waste is sorted, it is done inaccurately leading to contamination and rendering the separated waste unrecyclable and therefore sent to landfill. Rethinking Recycling focuses its education on how to properly separate waste into the three waste categories (Recyclables, Organics, and Waste Residue) and provides secondary sorting at its partner Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to ensure a high quality of sorted recyclables is achieved. By facilitating behavior change education, we are able to improve source separation quality at the very beginning of the value chain, therefore not only decreasing the amount of waste that is going to landfill, but also increasing efficiencies by reducing the amount of unnecessary tertiary sorting activities required along the remainder of the recycling value chain.

Rethinking Recycling’s initiatives

In March 2021, the Rethinking Recycling Academy launched its behavior change program in two communities in Bali, Kesiman Kertalangu and Tegal Kertha. Working off of our pilot program, Desa Kedas in Sanur Kauh, the Rethinking Recycling Academy has developed 3 initiatives fundamental to the success of our behavior change program. Through the introduction of scheduled collection, separation bins and a newly developed AI powered chatbot on Whatsapp that answers questions on source separation, the Rethinking Recycling Academy is beginning to transform the recycling habits of over 100,000 residents across Bali that will meaningfully transform the recycling value chain.

Prior to the transformation, all waste streams (Recyclables, Residue and Organics) were collected every day, resulting in residents having little to no reason to separate their waste at home. With the introduction of scheduled collection the different waste streams are only picked up on certain days of the week, creating not only an educational moment for the community but also a structural incentive for residents to separate their waste.

 “We have seen through our pilots that scheduled collection drives higher rates of participation in source separation. By creating a structural change, scheduled collection allows a consistent and stronger message to the community: their sorted wastes will not be mixed again after the collection process.” said Violy Purnamasari, Rethinking Recycling’s Behavior Change team lead.

Working in tandem with scheduled collection changes, the Rethinking Recycling Academy provides each household with colored separation bins for the different waste streams. The colored separation bins – green for organics, yellow for recyclables and red for waste residue – are intended to lower the financial and psychological barriers of recycling by providing residents with all the necessary equipment and in-home reminders to be a successful recycler.

Isabel Alison, a Rethinking Recycling Fellow noticed, “In other pilot villages that we have studied, like Kedonganan, we have seen that the most successful villages are those that have provided separation bins for their community. Without the bins, it’s difficult to standardize sorting quality and motivate community members to separate.”

In addition to the on-the-ground interventions, Rethinking Recycling has also launched a chatbot to help answer residents’ questions on recycling and source separation. The chatbot, named Ami (short for “Let’s Separate!” in Bahasa), is able to answer questions on recycling infrastructure, collection schedule and which waste categories different items belong to.

  “Ami is the first step for the Rethinking Recycling Academy to digitize our behavior change program and initiatives. Building off of Ami, we hope to build out a scalable, digital solution that can help us track communities progress on their behavior change journey,’’ said Barry Saunders, Rethinking Recycling’s Director of Digital innovation.

With firm conviction in the value of behavior change, the Rethinking Recycling Academy is excited to continue expanding its educational reach.  As we grow the number of communities in our program we plan to design more scalable and innovative digital solutions and produce shareable educational content. Together, with our communities and strategic partners, we will continue to create programs that inspire residents to believe that their personal contribution to recycling makes a difference and that our collective impact will contribute to solving the waste crisis.

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Co-designing with the community, for the community in Argentina

A behind the scenes look at the launch of GIRO’s first pilot in Olavarría

This week our Argentina team launched their first pilot of the GIRO recycling program in Olavarría. For Mariela Pascua, a member of our Rethinking Recycling Argentina team and a long time resident of Olavarría, the excitement is palpable.

“I am very excited to launch and to see how the community responds. Our city was chosen among many cities, and I am very proud that we were chosen. For a city like Olavarría that has been working on modernization for a long time, starting to rethink the way we consume and manage our waste is a fundamental step to achieve this transformation”.

GIRO Olavarría marks our largest program to-date at Rethinking Recycling and builds on the success of our Barrio 31, Buenos Aires program in Argentina. Like all our programs, our team is working closely with the community, including the Municipality of Olavarría, local business, cooperatives and residents, to co-create the program. Additionally, we are glad to report that we have partnered with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Amcor to support the program delivery. These partnerships are enabling our ability to drive grass-root impact. As we like to say – it takes a village to make change and every player is an important part of the puzzle.

Co-designing with the community 

“The strength of this program is in how we are co-designing with the community.” says program manager Larissa Sakamoto. The program started with gaining a better understanding of what the community wants and needs, and listening to residents about the strengths and weaknesses of Olavarría’s current waste management and recycling systems. 

To construct a deep understanding of residents’ current waste experience we conducted dozens of interviews, launched surveys within the community and hosted both focus groups and walking interviews.

“Throughout our research we learned that residents believe the community prides itself on being a clean, well-maintained and modern city that is healthy and vivacious,” says Brian McGough who is part of the behavior change team. 

We also heard about areas where residents thought the program could improve like a desire for more streamlined information and education and for a more integrated recycling program. 

Overall residents are excited about more accessible recycling solutions, and we are working hand-in-hand with the community to design new solutions for the city with a focus on recycling in mind. 

Empowering Waste Workers 

Local cooperatives and waste workers are central to this effort. Waste workers face challenging conditions in their work, and are also experts in day to day waste management. Paz Porres from our team is leading the social inclusion plan and is working closely with waste workers, to ensure their voices are heard and their livelihoods are improved through the program. 

Paz says, “what I am passionate about is inclusion and working with waste pickers, who are the most vulnerable in society. As the program grows we want to ensure that their basic needs are covered, and then add more value, such as educational and health benefits that improve their lives and those of their families.” 

Looking toward the future 

We are embarking on a path towards the development of an inclusive and sustainable recycling system in Olavarría, where each person plays a key role. 

These changes are coming at the right time for the community as Emilia Díaz from the Olavarría Municipality reminds us “We have a great challenge ahead of us, to work and dream together in the city we want: more sustainable, inclusive and modern. It will not be easy but I think that we Olavarrienses are ready to begin with this much-needed cultural change.”

Together with the communities across the globe, our Rethinking Recycling team continues to build green, inclusive and economic recycling ecosystems. Follow along on social media to learn more about our programs as they scale. 

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Press Release: CLOCC partners with the Rethinking Recycling Academy to develop digital training materials for recycling and waste management systems in Indonesia

Denpasar, Indonesia / Oslo, Norway, February 17, 2021 – Clean Oceans through Clean Communities (CLOCC), owned by Avfall Norge has partnered with the Rethinking Recycling Academy, the recently-launched capacity building program of to transform local waste management systems in Bali, Indonesia.

Rethinking Recycling is the flagship program of, an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to create lasting and substantial impact on complex social challenges. Rethinking Recycling aims to empower every community to build green, inclusive and economic recycling systems. The Rethinking Recycling Academy launched in September 2020 with support of local partners including the national Ministries and has trained its first cohort through an intensive online capability building program which supports communities to transform their waste management systems into community-led, green and financially sustainable ecosystems.

The participants in the cohort are from six villages in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, where only a small proportion of the population sorts their waste regularly. The village leadership, community leaders, operational managers and waste workers participate in the Academy through a hybrid of online and offline delivery. The online Academy sessions which take place on a weekly basis are coupled with the support of the on-the-ground transformation team.

Ella Flaye,’s Regional Director for Asia explained how the Academy became a highly scalable digitally-enabled waste management solution, “Like many organizations, COVID-19 made us reimagine solutions for the communities we serve. What was once destined to be an interactive on the ground program has evolved into a highly digitized remote learning academy through the sponsorship of Avfall Norge and our ed-tech partnership with Quipper.”

The partnership of CLOCC and the Rethinking Recycling Academy includes funding the development of scalable teaching materials. Enrolled communities access the curriculum online via the learning management platform of Quipper, a digital learning partner. Alongside the digital curriculum, Avfall Norge funds the delivery of training sessions to the initial Academy cohorts.

“We have found there are a lot of synergies between CLOCC and Rethinking Recycling’s focus and projects,” said Sigve Ånderå, Project manager for CLOCC. “CLOCC’s focus is mainly on waste management and master planning on a strategic level with regencies. Rethinking Recycling Academy focuses more on operational capacity and skills training. There are a lot of synergies between the two approaches, so together we can achieve more through complementing each other’s work.”

Funding from Avfall Norge is helping to power the development of the digital platform that future cohorts will use as the program expands across Indonesia and beyond. The partnership with CLOCC and the Rethinking Recycling Academy demonstrates how strong alignment between the organizations can drive sustainable and long-lasting environmental, financial and social impact in close collaboration with local communities.

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About Rethinking Recycling

Rethinking Recycling is the flagship program of,, whose goal is to have lasting and substantial impact on complex social challenges. The organization works by partnering with leaders from the private, public and social sectors. Rethinking Recycling is tackling the waste crisis by mobilizing every player in the process – from waste workers to global multinational companies, from village leaders to Ministers. Facebook Twitter  | Instagram


Clean Oceans through Clean Communities (CLOCC) is an initiative by Avfall Norge, with ISWA as implementing partner. CLOCC is supported by Norad,and is a part of the Norwegian government’s development programme to reduce marine plastic pollution and microplastics. CLOCC ‘s objective is to reduce marine plastic pollution through improving waste management on land.

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Blog: Celebrating Women in Science That are Tackling Today’s Global Challenges

Follow Shannon Bouton on Instagram and Twitter.

At, part of our mission and approach to problem solving is “developing, testing and scaling solutions”, so it’s no wonder that our President & CEO, Shannon Bouton, is a scientist herself. “Being a scientist defines how I tackle problems that I am presented with and has thus helped to shape how our organization seeks to find answers” Shannon told us, when we recently spoke with her about her background in science.

For International Day of Women and Girls in Science – we sat down with Shannon to learn more about her background in science, her accomplishments in Biology and why it’s important we close the gender gap in science.

Shannon’s unique background has taken her to some incredible places around the world, studying biology and ecology and most noteworthy the environmental impacts on birds and wildlife. Now Shannon is using her background in science to tackle issues like reimagining waste management systems to help tackle our global waste problem.


Q: When and why did you first start getting interested in science? Was there a specific teacher, project or mentor you encountered along your way?

I lived in London from age 8 to 18 and went through the British school system. I gravitated early toward the sciences because I loved learning about the world and how it worked and eventually chose to do A’Levels in Chemistry, Physics and Biology. If I’m honest, part of my love for science came from two special teachers, Ms. Ross my physics teacher and Mrs. Mason my Chemistry teacher. I enjoyed their humor and the way they challenged me and my classmates to think for ourselves.

When I entered college, I decided to focus on Biology and Environmental Sustainability, because I was concerned about what I saw happening in our natural world. In grad school I found more strong women role models including my PhD advisor, Bobbi Low, who taught me to appreciate the fascinating complexities of animal behavior from birds to humans

Q: Tell us about your journey and background in science, beginning with college and through your work post college as a professional.

I have B.S. with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science, a Master’s in wildlife, Ecology and Conservation, and a PhD in Natural Resources and the Environment. In between each degree, I worked on different projects that shaped my next step. After undergrad, I looked for a way to get myself to Brazil. I was born in Brazil, but only lived there for a few years and was eager to return after being raised as an expat. I wanted to understand what it meant to be Brazilian.

I got a job in Mato Grosso Brazil, working in the Brazilian Pantanal looking at whether we could use wading bird colonies as biological indicators of ecosystem health. That led me to my Masters work at the University of Florida, working with Dr.s Peter Frederick and John Ogden who had written about this same approach for the Everglades. During my degree I started looking at specific stressors including methyl mercury and tourist disturbance to understand the impact on wading birds.

After that, I went back to work in Brazil with a non-profit in the Pantanal, then applied to PhD programs to continue my work on stressors. My PhD work looked at the effects of multiple combined stressors on the development of nestling birds, this time in Cliff Swallows in Nebraska. I loved field work, but I didn’t want to be an academic – I thought I wanted to work for a conservation non-profit. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that having an MBA would be helpful, so I joined McKinsey & Company after defending my dissertation to get the business training. There I helped to start the sustainability practice and now I am proud to be leading our efforts here at as we tackle some of the most complex environmental challenges.

Q: is working on global complex challenges, specifically within circularity and building innovative waste management systems. Does your background in science play a role in how you approach these issues?

Absolutely. We take an experimental approach to many of the questions we tackle – comparing one solution against another to see which delivers the most impact. More than that, science has taught me how to disaggregate complex problems into small units that can be tackled without losing sight of the whole. Being a scientist defines how I tackle problems that I am presented with and has thus helped to shape how our organization seeks to find answers.

Q: What are some ways we can encourage women to embrace science early on? How important is representation in science?

Many studies of diversity and inclusion have shown that diverse teams are more creative, make better decisions, and draw more insightful conclusions. The same has been shown to be true in science, where having women on research teams often leads to new ideas and perspectives. Everyone approaches problem solving with their own biases. Ensuring the biases of a research team are not all the same, leads to more creative hypotheses, experimental approaches and thinking upfront and more robust interpretation of results.

Closing the gender gap has to start with keeping young girls excited about doing science. In middle school science, girls perform on par with boys and enroll in advanced science and math courses at equal rates. But then they move into high school, and there is a drop in girls participation. We need to find ways to encourage and excite girls who show promise or interest, looking at the ways we teach to make sure we are engaging them, and ensuring they don’t feel alone when they choose to pursue science in high school or college. I’m not an educator, but science applies to all aspects of life and it seems to me there are creative ways to make sure that textbooks, science classes and challenges are designed with the interests of teenage girls in mind.

My hope for the future is that we will have parity of women in all sciences across all levels of education. Quite simply, this leads to better science being done. The earliest signs of this will be a generation of teenage girls excited about pursuing careers in science leading to parity in the numbers of boys and girls doing science and math in high-school and beyond. We are getting closer but there is more work to do.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Both my Masters and PhD research, and most of the work I did in between, focused on understanding the effect of human disturbance on birds. I am particularly proud of my master’s work in the Brazilian Pantanal, where I worked with local fishermen, tour guides, cattle ranchers, and nonprofits to understand the economic benefits to the community of nesting colonies of wading birds (Wood Storks, Egrets, Spoonbills), and how to manage those biologically diverse sites so that the local people and tourists could benefit from them without disrupting the breeding birds. The final chapter of my thesis laid out in bullet form critical management recommendations for sustainable tourism in nesting colonies – not a usual format for a thesis chapter.

After graduation, I translated my thesis into Portuguese and took copies back to the communities where I had worked to share the insights hopeful of having some practical impact. But the real realization of the impact of my work came several years later when I visited a wading bird colony on a farm outside of Poconé in the Northern Pantanal as a tourist. Impressed by the sensitivity of our guides, the ranch “cowboys”, to not disturbing the birds we were viewing, I shared my pleasure with the farmer’s wife that evening at dinner. Proudly she told me about a set of guidelines she followed for how to manage tourism in nesting colonies, then pulled out a dog-eared copy of my thesis. It was the greatest validation I could hope for my work – to see it put into practice in a colony I had never before visited in a remote corner of the Pantanal. The State of Mato Grosso has since turned my thesis into a manual, distributed all over the region.

At, there have been many accomplishments I’m proud of but most recently it was leveraging our programs to support the communities we work with during the COVID19 pandemic. Waste workers are essential workers so those in our programs have continued working through quarantines. To ensure the safety of workers, we gathered best practices from across the world to develop multiple trainings on how to safely operate waste management with an ongoing contagion threat. To date, we have trained 450 workers across our two locations, and provided support for four national ministries including the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Village to share global health and safety best practices with over 600 waste management facilities across Indonesia.

In addition to access to PPE, we have supported waste workers and vulnerable communities in accessing food and health care. In Indonesia, we distributed over 4,000 meals to waste worker families along with full PPE provision and worked to ensure all of our workers are registered for national healthcare. In Argentina, we have provided tactical support to the local municipal government to distribute ~85,000 meals to residents in the informal settlement of Barrio 31. We have leveraged our communication channels, developed to drive recycling behavior, to help the government distribute health and safety information to residents of Barrio 31. And, we have been working with the local government, the International Red Cross (IRC) and Doctors Without Borders to establish a cohort of mobile diagnostic clinics across the Barrio to identify cases (e.g., taking temperatures of residents) and drive containment and quarantine efforts. The success of this last effort has led to the City of Buenos Aires to roll it out across all informal settlements in the city.

COVID’s Hidden Frontline in Indonesia

By: Ella Flaye, Regional Director – Asia

2020 has been an extraordinary year for all us – a year which feels like the world paused whilst it grapples with a global pandemic and the unknown. For many of us that means retreating back to the safety of our homes and waiting for the world to reopen, but for some that isn’t an option. For essential workers, including waste workers, their work must continue. Throughout our work in Indonesia, one thing is clear: waste workers are a hidden frontline to our COVID-19 pandemic. 

Waste workers in developing economies like Indonesia are often from highly marginalised social groups, where every day’s wage counts. Throughout Indonesia’s pandemic, we saw waste workers on the streets of the capital handling waste with their bare hands, no masks or goggles to be seen and no one to support them. Society takes little time to appreciate what they do for us and how they keep our homes and streets clean, but without them there would be chaos and widespread disease, not to mention the irreversible degradation to our environment. 

This is where we at Rethinking Recycling saw an opportunity to support the communities we work with by supporting and protecting their waste workers through these difficult times. With our partners, we rallied to provide head to toe protection, health and safety guidance and even the provision of meals to waste workers and their families hit hard by the crisis. 

During the height of the crisis this meant all workers at our pilot sites, as well as other neighboring sites, had ample supplies of helmets, goggles, masks, overalls and boots, and access to running water, soap and hand sanitizer to keep them protected every day.

Providing essential protection & economic relief for Waste Workers

At Rethinking Recycling we have a deep passion for education and capability building so we grasped this opportunity to deliver trainings and widely publicize materials to ensure everyone understood the importance of PPE, sanitation and social distancing for waste workers. Our guidance and training materials were picked up by our partners at the ministries of the environment, public works and villages and disseminated to over 70,000 villages across Indonesia. 

COVID-19 decimated Bali’s economy leaving many families, including waste workers, without a means to put food on the table. We provided over 4 thousand meals to waste workers, waste pickers and their families during the first lockdown in an attempt to make their lives just a little bit easier through those dark days. Through the Rethinking Recycling program we brought all wages up to minimum wage – a near 200% increase and we ensured access to healthcare and provided on the ground training and coaching. 

Our programs are not successful unless our workers are respected and proud of their work!

Establishing the Rethinking Recycling Academy

In September 2020 we launched our Rethinking Recycling Academy in Denpasar Bali. The program empowers communities with all the skills and tools they need to run a successful recycling program including access to funding, operational and financial management and very importantly worker’s wellbeing. As for many others, COVID has impacted our program – what was once destined to be an interactive on the ground program has evolved into a highly digitized remote learning academy through an ed-tech partnership with Quipper. Through training our first Academy cohort we hope to improve the livelihoods and create good green jobs for over 300 workers across Denpasar. Every waste worker counts. 

Together we can create a resilient, sustainable waste management ecosystem in Bali and beyond.

Building A New Path Forward in 2020 For Impact in Argentina

By: Cristina Domecq, Senior Associate, Behavior Change

Like so many nonprofits around the world, we began 2020 with big plans and high hopes for how we would reshape environmental and social systems across the world. As we know all too well now, 2020 would instead lay a path with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Our 2020 focus: Expanding Rethinking Recycling across Buenos Aires

Our Rethinking Recycling program in Buenos Aires’ Barrio 31, locally known as ‘ATR – A Todo Reciclaje’, had closed 2019 with a proven model for sustainable recycling programs in informal settlements. Over the course of one year, we had taken the new recycling service to the doorsteps of more than 20 thousand people, reaching participation rates of over 30% and diverting more than 120 tons of recyclables and organics. We built a community-run sorting center from scratch and created the first residential organics collection service in the city of Buenos Aires. As we leaped into January 2020, our team of community leaders, waste workers and sustainability experts were focused on expanding the ‘A Todo Reciclaje’ program to more than 40,000 people across the entire Barrio 31 neighborhood.

With a playbook for sustainable waste management in informal settlements through our Barrio 31 work, our team was also preparing to prove our model in a new context: in the mid-sized city of Olavarría. With sprawling parks and a lolling river valley in Buenos Aires Province, Olavarría notably has a long heritage as the cement industry capital of the region with engaged citizens and robust public services. In this new city and alongside the municipal government as partners, we made plans to launch our new program – to transform the end-to-end municipal waste system to optimize the recovery of recyclable and compostable materials back into productive use.

A new path forward: Our pivot in the pandemic

We were on the right track. And then our lives stopped, our programs stopped. However, our will to rethink the status quo and collaborate for a better world remained unstoppable.

After being pushed off the tracks like many others during the COVID-19 crisis, we started building a new path.

Our Argentina team focused on two goals:

  • First, collaborate with our existing partner, the city of Buenos Aires government, to help the community in Barrio 31 overcome the escalating crisis by repurposing our platform to provide COVID response;
  • Second, re-launch our Barrio 31 recycling programs safely, as soon as possible.

Barrio 31 COVID Response

Like many informal settlements around the world, Coronavirus precautions like social distancing and stay-at-home quarantining are nearly impossible in Barrio 31: families live side-by-side in cramped apartments, and count on daily work for food. In April and May, as the rest of the city of Buenos Aires sheltered in place and held COVID at bay, Barrio 31 and the city’s other slums made up nearly 50% of infected cases across the city.

Our dynamic, community-based model was able to shift rapidly to provide support to those who need it most, when they need it most. Given the immediate need to support Barrio 31’s community, we re-purposed our reach in the community to quickly deploy food, PPE, and health and safety training to essential workers and vulnerable communities alongside our government partner, the Secretariat for Social and Urban Integration (SISU)

During the early days of Buenos Aires’ shelter in place policy, we continued to digitally stand by the side of waste workers, who, despite fear and uncertainty, were as committed as ever to keeping the streets clean and their neighbors safe. While the rest of the city was on lockdown Barrio 31’s waste management services continued. We leveraged the program’s reach to share messages with Barrio 31’s neighbors on how to safely manage their waste, while also virtually training more than 400 waste workers in the Barrio 31 community on COVID-19 prevention measures. This training methodology seemed unthinkable before Covid but has proven safe and efficient, and will represent a scaling method we will continue to use after the pandemic.

The digital support and tools we provided allowed us to maintain a relationship that we had worked hard to build, providing both immediate COVID care and response, while enabling a smooth relaunch of the program later in September of 2020 as if it had never stopped.

Relaunching our program in Barrio 31

Neighbors and waste-workers in Barrio 31 had stopped recycling for over half a year and we needed to come back strong in order to remind them how relevant their actions were both for sustainability and the community’s wellbeing. First, we adapted the whole recycling journey and sorting operations making sure we complied with all COVID-19 prevention measures and led reinforcement and motivation sessions with over 200 waste workers. Then, we developed a campaign that included digital communications, posters on the streets and door to door communications issuing the invitation to “get re-hooked with saving the planet” to the homes and shops of Barrio 31.

Today, we are back on track, safely expanding the program to new areas of Barrio 31. We have incorporated three more cooperatives to A Todo Reciclaje (ATR), which means that 1,500 more households and over six thousand more people have access to three stream waste collection. Meanwhile, the ATR program has sparked the interest of governments, influencers and organizations, that, despite the situation, or maybe because of it, have recognized in ATR the potential to transform communities and improve recycling.

Expansion to Olavarría

The Olavarría program, named “GIRO” (which stands for Olavarría Integrated Waste Management in Spanish), is a 3-year program that kicked off in August 2020 to roll-out a recycling program across the entire city alongside the municipal government, residents and waste workers. Against a challenging backdrop of working with a globally dispersed team and social distancing protocols, the team managed to find creative ways to conduct community research to better understand residents’ waste experience and barriers to recycling and is now designing tailored solutions, which will be piloted in various neighborhoods starting in March 2021.

Looking ahead to 2021: Reimagining what’s possible

Doing a retrospection of what we have lived this past year, we can say that, despite all the difficult and uncertain moments, we’ve grown stronger.

The whole organization has made a huge effort to support each other and remain connected inside and outside the limits of Rethinking Recycling. We have had our ups and downs, but we exit 2020 excited with our old and new partnerships and friendships, thirsty for new adventures to face together.

We have been forced to rethink – and redesign, re-plan, re-challenge – who we are and what we do, and we feel more prepared than ever for whatever 2021 holds.

Breakthrough behavior change: lessons from Civic Response Team in India

By Shannon Bouton and Cynthia Shih

Sometimes modest adjustments to everyday habits can make an enormous difference. For COVID-19, wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing are our best hope of containing the pandemic. Condom use has been one of the most effective tools in reducing HIV transmission. In recycling, proper separation of waste materials at home preserves the value of those materials, enabling the entire recycling industry to function.

But lasting behavior change is also very hard to achieve, and most efforts fall far short of their goals. Developing a new habit always competes with other priorities, and often existing societal norms, environmental cues, and personal senses of identity serve as powerful motivators against change. In difficult socioeconomic contexts, where people face challenges meeting their basic daily needs like food, clean water, or physical safety, behavior change may be an even tougher ask.   

In the past, many NGOs took behavior change approaches from high-income countries and tried to apply them wholesale to middle- and low-income countries. Increasingly, however, organizations in emerging economies are developing behavior change strategies tailored to the people and communities they serve, achieving impressive results with a fraction of the funding and resources that wealthier countries spend on similar efforts. Earlier this year, countries such as Ghana and Vietnam emerged as global case studies in effective containment of COVID-19, using novel techniques such as drones to transport test samples from hard-to-reach areas, and crowd-sourcing “event-based” surveillance to focus contact tracing efforts. Such examples have much to teach the global community about how to effectively deploy behavior change programs and tools, especially in challenging socioeconomic contexts.

When we launched Rethinking Recycling in early 2018, we set out to explore and learn from community-driven behavior change programs around the globe. One exceptional organization we found was Civic Response Team (CRT) in India, part of a broader social impact firm that includes the Centre for Applied Research and People’s Engagement (CARPE) and EcoSattva Environmental Solutions. CRT has achieved durable changes in recycling behaviors in many municipalities (urban local bodies, or ULBs) across Maharashtra state. The insights CRT has shared about its approach have deeply informed Rethinking Recycling’s behavior change programs in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Bali, Indonesia. And we believe CRT’s approach holds important lessons for anyone looking to implement effective, rapid behavior change at scale for social impact.

Emphasizing motivation over information for more effective behavior change

Natasha Zarine and Gauri Mirashi, founders of CRT, on field in the early days of their pilot project

Like Rethinking Recycling, CRT’s aim is to increase recycling rates in local communities to divert as much waste from landfills (or worse, illegal dumping sites) as possible. For the economics of recycling to work, people need to separate out recyclable waste at home to keep it clean and preserve its value. Unfortunately, this is where most recycling systems struggle most; in 2018 China, the world’s largest recycling economy, stopped importing waste because contamination rates were too high. The culprits were primarily recycling programs in North America and Europe, where many cities only achieve 30-40% (or lower) of households correctly separating their waste, despite decades of education and awareness campaigns.

In India, CRT has reported getting 80% of households to separate waste correctly into wet and dry categories within two weeks of launching in a given community, and to 95% within the next two weeks. And according to CRT’s data monitoring, these results have also held across demographics and over time.

What is the secret of CRT’s success? We observed that CRT has shifted the focus from information to motivation: putting people’s personal experience of being part of a recycling effort at the heart of every aspect of the program. The following examples illustrate how CRT has embedded this motivation-above-all principle in every aspect of its programs: from the “why” to the “how” and the “who” of community waste management.

1) Create a compelling “why”: invest in activating residents’ emotional commitment to recycling.  

A resident shows off her correctly separated waste: dry recyclables and wet organic matter

Many recycling programs incorrectly assume that building awareness and providing information is enough to change behavior. In fact, residents who need to start separating waste at home have many reasons not to adopt this new habit, even if they are aware and understand what’s being asked of them. And while penalties for non-compliance like fines may work in some other parts of the world, these kinds of negative incentives are not feasible in India where CRT works. “The only way to engage with residents is to make them feel a sense of ownership,” explain CRT co-founders Natasha Zarine and Gauri Mirashi.

CRT’s insight is that while some barriers to behavior change are practical (for example, insufficient space within the home), the most important factor is social. When people sense a critical mass of buy-in for a new behavior in the community, and that adopting that behavior will be good for their social identity, they find creative ways to overcome other obstacles.

CRT’s insight: the most important factor in behavior change is social. When people sense that adopting a behavior will be good for their social identity, they find creative ways to overcome other obstacles

With this in mind, CRT works with each community and its governing body to ensure its behavior change campaigns resonate emotionally with locals and create a sense of shared commitment. Since recycling is often a “hidden” behavior that people perform in the privacy of their homes, CRT brings recycling into public spaces and widely consumed media: for example, by tapping college and high school students to stage high-energy rallies and flash mobs. Catchy local phrases reinforce the pro-recycling message and make recycling a part of daily life, and are featured at local events and festivities, even jingles on local radio and mobile ringtones. Many of these efforts are aimed at young people, who are still forming the habits that they will carry throughout life, to help foster a positive and inspiring identity around recycling.

Through repeated implementation across many municipalities, CRT has also developed pattern recognition for what needs to be tailored to each community and what can be replicated wholesale from elsewhere. In one city renowned for its mango production, for example, CRT made the program mascot a mango dancing to a catchy recycling song, set to the tune of a Bollywood hit. But some elements can be used again and again across an entire region, saving valuable time and resources. For example, CRT uses a hand symbol and catchphrase (“taka-tak”) as universal shorthand for its recycling program, after finding they were memorable and quickly adopted by each new community without further customization.

2) Bring the “how” to life: use hands-on recycling demonstrations and ongoing cues through collection service.

Municipal staff and CRT lead an in-street education event for residents

Once people are inspired to adopt a new behavior, they need first-hand knowledge and supportive cues to put it into practice. For recycling, this means providing practical education on how to separate waste at home – and, just as importantly, integrating this behavior change with the waste collection service itself. 

To that end, when CRT helps launch a municipality’s recycling program, it works with waste collectors to host street events along their collection routes. These include live demonstrations of how to separate household waste into the appropriate categories, using actual waste that people bring out from their homes. Through this hands-on learning experience, recycling goes from an abstract concept to a tactile experience, something people can easily picture themselves incorporating into their daily routines.

After initial launch, the design of the collection service reinforces the behavior change. Here the emerging-economy setting plays to CRT’s advantage. In most higher-income countries, recycling programs rely on standardized, different colored bins to prompt residents to keep waste separated, with mixed results and at high equipment cost. In Maharashtra, most households have someone at home throughout the day, and residents bring their waste out to the collector for pickup. This creates a regular human touchpoint as they work to build a new habit; each collection stop provides an opportunity for residents to ask questions and get helpful tips on how to separate waste correctly, thus creating a positive feedback loop that sustains compliance over time.

Waste collectors host street events along their collection routes, including live demonstrations using actual waste that people bring out from their homes. Recycling goes from an abstract concept to a tactile experience

Waste workers themselves become more motivated through these hands-on education activities for residents, since they vividly illustrate the importance of their own work and how it connects them to real people in the community. According to sanitation supervisors who have worked with CRT, after these community education efforts, waste collection workers were significantly more engaged in their work, and 81% reported better relations with residents. 

3) Highlight the “who”: make every waste worker a recycling ambassador.

Waste workers take a tea break

CRT recognized early on that local waste management staff are the face of the recycling effort, and therefore critical to building credibility and fostering behavior change in the community. Waste collectors who visibly keep waste clean and separated are sending a clear signal to residents: when you make the effort to recycle correctly, the sanitation department upholds its end of the bargain. Workers who can speak knowledgeably about which kinds of waste go where, and educate residents on mistakes they observe when picking up waste, are serving two purposes: they improve recycling behaviors and the value of recovered materials, and they signal that someone is paying attention to what each household is doing, reinforcing the message that everyday behaviors matter.

Workers who can speak knowledgeably and educate residents are serving two purposes: they improve the value of recovered materials, and they reinforce the message that everyday behaviors matter

When working with waste management staff, CRT goes well beyond traditional capacity building. Its deep investment in worker capabilities includes training in leadership skills, public speaking, team building and problem solving, design thinking, and techniques for community partnership building and resident engagement. This holistic curriculum empowers workers to become respected and skilled change agents in the community, and to find their own creative solutions to challenges and setbacks throughout implementation of the recycling program. After CRT hands off the program to municipalities, they continue to perform well in the national Swachh Survekshan annual assessment of cleanliness and sanitation. 

CRT also fosters a motivating work environment for waste workers. One example is the “lucky draw.” In one municipality, after an initially successful launch, the volume of dry recyclables like paper, plastic, and glass coming into the sorting facility began dropping. As an experiment, the CRT team introduced a “lucky draw” incentive system, where individual waste workers could earn chances to win valuable prizes like cookware and bed linens by improving residents’ waste separation in their collection zones. (Through trial and error, CRT found that a randomized “lucky draw” among high performers works better than a straight “top performers” award, which incentivizes workers to question the fairness or accuracy of the ranking.) More dry recyclables began coming in on municipal collection vehicles again – and the incentive program served the dual purpose of improving the municipal staff’s relations with informal waste pickers, who worked at the sorting facility and were able to recover and sell more recyclables. 

Together, such efforts have resulted in waste workers in CRT’s programs reporting a 94% uptick in better understanding of their roles and 75% increase in their ability to problem-solve. In Rethinking Recycling’s programs in Indonesia and Argentina, we have also invested in deep training and performance-based incentives for our partners in the recycling workforce.

A template for broader social impact

As CRT’s methodology shows, focusing on motivation – in awareness campaigns, designing collection service and how-to education, and building worker capabilities – can yield dramatic results for recycling outcomes. And it disproves the often-held assumption that people won’t adopt recycling behaviors in low-income countries because they have “bigger things to worry about.” In fact, when provided with low-cost supports and reinforcing mechanisms, communities and workers in emerging economies can significantly outperform those in wealthier countries when it comes to forming good recycling habits.

Recycling is also emblematic of behavior change challenges in social impact more generally. Separating waste at home is a habit that requires consistent, ongoing practice, with benefits that are largely invisible to the person changing behavior, and which competes with many other urgent priorities. Just as organizations working on public health issues like HIV, vaccination, and teen pregnancy have contributed a great deal to our knowledge about effective behavior change globally, environmental sustainability organizations like CRT are bringing new insights that have broad applicability. 

What other issues have invisible behaviors that could be modeled more publicly? What other habits are tied to a service with regular touchpoints? Where else could we invest more deeply in front-line workers?

What other issues have “invisible” behaviors that could be modeled and celebrated more publicly, in locally meaningful ways? What other necessary habits are tied to a service with regular touchpoints, that could be used for hands-on demonstrations and reinforcing feedback? Where else could we invest more deeply in elevating front-line workers to become respected ambassadors of the cause, who are rewarded and recognized for their successes?

The Civic Response Team, The Center for Applied Research and People’s Engagement & EcoSattva Environmental Solutions Pvt Ltd. are sister organizations that provide evidence driven systemic solutions to pervasive civic challenges with multiple government, industry, community partners. For more information, visit or