The Azulita Project was born from the desire of several individuals to create a healthier and more environmentally sustainable community and world. Moved by the rampant plastic pollution and overuse of chemical pesticides in the Los Llanos region, the four original founders—Mike, Lainie, Erwing, and Pato—joined forces in 2008 to create the Azulita Project.
In its initial form, the Azulita Project was a volunteer “communitarian” effort which included organic farming education programs, a recycling project, a youth soccer league, dance instruction, English classes and a community space for teaching and gathering.
In 2014 the Project founders reorganized the recycling portion of the project in pursuit of an effective and sustainable business model. The concept was simple: create an economic incentive for people to recycle plastic.
Azulita team members purchase plastic waste from local residents, clean the materials, and create bales of crushed plastic containers. When the Azulita plant has compacted between 10 to 15 tons of waste plastic—equivalent to a semi truck load—the bundles are delivered to the city of Guadalajara where they are sold to a recycling facility. The proceeds from plastic sales are reinvested into the business, the community, and other Azulita initiatives.
The Azulita recycling program actively removes up to 1 ton of plastic waste a day from the Los Llanos region. Prior to the Azulita Project, this waste would have been burned or tossed away, polluting local beaches and, ultimately, the ocean.
Others have attempted to start recycling programs in the region but have failed for various reasons, including lack of local interest and sustained motivation by residents and visitors.
The Azulita Project recycling program is successful due to its innovative, incentive-based model that has dramatically increased local recycling participation. Inspired by the effectiveness of deposits on glass bottles and the value of various metals, Azulita created a privately subsidized buy-back program that places value on post-consumer plastic and encourages residents to ollect waste plastic and deliver it to the Azulita facility.