Recyclable by Nature



Angel Maass

Carlos Romero

Gerardo Lozano


EGADE Business School Mexico

Published in


This case describes a cross-sector, multi-alliance scheme built to deal with Mexico City’s pollution –specifically, its garbage problem. The initiative depicted in this case dates back to 1978, when several volunteers at Mexico City’s Junior League chapter (JLCM), an international nonprofit that gathers women who are committed to enhance living conditions around the globe, organized a forum to raise awareness on environmental issues.

As a result of that forum, JLCM unilaterally launched a number of programs over the years. In the early 1990s, the organization decided to launch a massive program to recycle waste. The pilot program was started in 1993 and formalized, under the name “Recyclable by Nature” (RPN, for its Spanish acronym), in 1995. The program started off by collecting traditional waste, like paper, plastic, glass, etc. However, in 1995, the decision was made to focus solely in recycling aseptic containers used to pack liquid foods.

JLCM’s environmental committee would manage the program. Its members began to seek alliances that would help the program advance its goals. Yet, it proved to be a difficult task, as it meant working with the Federal Government’s Public Education Secretary, Mexico City’s Administration, supermarket chains, companies using multilayered packaging for their products, environmental groups and JLCM.

This case describes this alliance-building process, with several partners withdrawing from the project for several reasons, threatening its continuity, as well as JLCM’s relentless determination to make it happen.

As it draws to an end, the case presents the dilemma faced by RPN’s head. In 2002, the program needed a new approach. Resources were scarce, and some logistics problems, primarily involving supermarkets and the city’s administration, hindered waste collection. It was also necessary to assess the role of public schools, which had played a very active role in the program. Challenged by these concerns, RPN’s head wondered if it would make more sense to focus program efforts and financial resources –largely provided by Tetra Pak, the leading multilayer container manufacturer- on operations at elementary schools, drawing away from self-service store chains.

As RPN’s success hinged on the combined efforts all partners, the program’s head had to run her idea by all of them. She also struggled with other questions regarding RPN’s future. The program needed to find ways to engage packaging producers and users in a more committed, lasting fashion.