Going in circles to make plastic a resource

Boomera
Brazil ( São Paulo)

Boomera works with Brazil’s waste pickers and big brands to find new creative uses for plastic that normally ends up in landfill, changing lives and even turning trash into music.

 

“We believe nothing is trash. Everything, even the most unimaginable things, can be transformed.“ – Guilherme Brammer

We’re all familiar with the boomerang, a wooden tool that’s designed to come back to the thrower, but have you heard of a woomera? It’s an Australian Aboriginal spear that lands with precision. Brazilian company Boomera has combined the two words because it wants to teach us that going round in circles can have a good impact, if done cleverly.

boomera atlas of the future

Believing that what goes around comes around, the revolutionary São Paulo-based circular economy specialists turn garbage into business to save the planet.

Circular economy (noun)

an alternative regenerative system reuses and recycles resources to keep them in play for as long as possible, closing material and product loops to prevent primary production

In Latin America, four million people rely on waste as a source of income. Boomera works with Brazil’s catadores (waste collectors) to find new uses for hard-to-recycle plastic products that normally end up in landfill; working with cutting-edge technology to connect the entire production chain to transform waste into raw material and then into cool designs.

boomera atlas of the future

Marine pollution is a growing problem in today’s world. It harms marine species, violates ecosystems and can cause disease. In Brazil alone, 6.3 million tonnes of uncollected garbage ends up in dumps and landfills each year. Of the total plastic waste produced in the South American country annually, only a tiny 1.28% is effectively recycled. That makes it the fourth biggest producer of plastic in the world.  This mismanagement of waste globally means that microplastic particles have now been found in drinking water.

boomera atlas of the future

Frustrated by the lack of adequate recycling he saw in his home city of São Paulo, in 2011 Brazilian materials engineer, Guilherme Brammer (pictured below), set up Boomera (then called Wisewaste) to find innovative solutions to give raw materials new life. He wanted to revive and reuse hard-to-recycle waste products such as cigarette butts and coffee pods. He knew that getting the big companies to put a more circular economy into practice would be the most effective way to help the world meet the sustainability goals. 

boomera Guilherme-Brammer-Jr-Boomera-696x464

Today Boomera helps large companies to make their production models more sustainable, by showing them how being more green can generate new business opportunities.The company has created a methodology called the ‘Circular Pack’ to gain scale and impact by turning waste into a line of products with a cause, bringing together technology, design, science and social inclusion. It has even found solutions for Adidas, Procter & Gamble and Nestlé.

For Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto, Boomera found a way to recycle thousands of coffee pods to create accessories, like a coffee pods holder, with the plastic resin. In another project, schools collected millions of TANG drink cartons, which were recycled and turned into musical instruments that were donated back to schools throughout the country, reaching thousands of kids. 

With Adidas, they transformed residues taken from Rio de Janeiro waters, collected by waste pickers (pictured above), into recycled into hundreds of cones for sporting activities (pictured below).

If a product/packaging has no technical recycling solution, it’s taken to Boomera’s circular engineering lab at the Mauá Institute of Technology in São Paulo for testing to analyse different recycling routes.

Once the technical recycling of the material is solved, Boomera works with a network of more than 200 waste picker cooperatives around Brazil to collect the waste material, bringing work to those communities, who then sell it to recycling companies – proving that plastic is too valuable to waste.

boomera atlas of the future

Through their ‘Recycling for a Change’ project, in partnership with the Dow Initiative, a company that works to change the future of Latin America’s waste management, Boomera wants to transform the reality of life and work of thousands of people who turn waste into stories of social impact. The project brings experts and leaders together to create scalable solutions that support the community, such as improving work conditions and developing a collaborative work model for separation cooperatives.

In 2019, Guilherme Brammer was selected as a Social Entrepreneur by Folha de S. Paulo and, in 2016, by Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Negócios magazine.

AtlasAction: Read more plastic waste solutions.

Submitted by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor-in-Chief, Atlas of the Future

(30 November 2020)

Project leader

Guilherme Brammer, CEO, Boomera

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