Coelce is a Brazilian subsidiary of the Spanish company Endesa which is one of the largest electricity companies in the world. Coelce provides electricity distribution and transmission services for the state of Ceará in Brazil. The company noticed that the high rate of default and theft of electricity occurs in low-income communities and that there was a close relationship between this low-income population and the large volume of solid wastes that was being improperly dumped into the environment. Thus, in august 2006 Coelce developed the Ecoelce program to recapture the value of the wasted resources and return it to the local population. The principle is to encourage responsible waste management by “paying” clients who adopt good practices with credits that can be used to pay electrical bills.
- Respond to the federal government’s enforcement of electricity inclusion (increase geographical coverage to the most impoverished areas, including slums)
- Reduce corporate losses related to unpaid bills
- Allow electricity access to segments of population with limited economic resources
- Improve the company’s commitment to local community development
- Foster waste recycling and educate population about the importance of recycling
The Ecoelce program was launched in 2006 as a pilot project in 4 low-income communities in Fortaleza. Today, Ecoelce has 53 fixed collection sites in Fortaleza and in several municipalities. To participate in the Ecoelce Project, a person or a commercial entity must be a client of Coelce and request his Ecoelce card. He takes waste that is already separated to one of the collection sites. There, the waste is weighed and appraised according to the market price of each material. The values are credited to the client’s card and at each billing period, the system subtracts the bonus earned from the energy bill. The client can also choose to donate his credits to NGOs.
As Coelce does not have the expertise to manipulate recyclable waste, the company has signed agreements with local recycling companies: they are responsible for removing the waste and taking it to recycling plants that manufacture new products with the recycled material. Coelce manages the collection sites and provides the scales and equipment that send the data to the company’s billing system.
- Groups of neighbors involved in a collecting organization
- Academic support to the project
- Agreement with recycling industry and institutional support essential for the success
- Flexibility on control and billing system (follow on line of account movements)
- Project easily extendable
However, one of the major issues to Ecoelce’s development plan and to environmental concerns are not certified recycling companies who pay in cash catadores* and do not always give the best destination to the waste.
* informal collectors that pick up waste and make a living by selling them to recycling companies
- Reduction on failure to payment rate
- Increase in the number of consumers
- Increase of energy billed
- Reduction of the number of illegal connections
- 10.977 t of recyclable waste collected, equivalent to 41.073 GWh of power
- 514.194€ discounts for customers
- Development of recycling industry : 52 direct jobs and 200 indirect jobs
- Easier access to credit thanks to the public service bill which confirms the customer’s residency
- Reduction of diseases (dengue) caused by inadequate waste removal