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InnovativeCommunities.Org Foundation

Friends Building Global Community

Guatemala Recycling and Composting Initiative


Educating teachers, children and parents in Chaquijya on the recycling and composting, and developing and implementing school and community programs for recycling, recovering compost for the school tree nursery and selling the recycled material.


This recycling initiative is located in Chaquijya, a small village in the Guatemalan highlands, of about 3,000 people. It is situated close to Lake Atitlan, a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes. Since 2011, ICO has supported a new junior high (basico) school in Chaquijya. This school is housed in the same building as a preschool and a K-6 primary school. In all, there are currently 362 students. Attached to the school is a tree nursery, where agricultural students help to raise seedlings to combat the problem of deforestation in the area.

Currently, garbage is thrown in the streets and the fields. With the increased use of plastics in Guatemala, this has become an enormous problem, especially given the proximity of the lake. This initiative will teach the students and their families to sort and recycle their garbage and convert the organic garbage to compost for use in the tree nursery. It will start with the school, and then expand to include the entire community.

This concern has been here a long time, in fact, this attempt to deal with waste in an environmentally sound manner, linked to the reforestation of the area, began several years ago and the only impediment to progress faster has been the lack of resources.


The initiative aims to educate three levels of students attending the school, ensuring that they will use containers to adequately deposit materials according to their categories: organic and inorganic.

This initiative involves a) construction (the building of a collection/storage centre, improvement of the current compost area, construction of a water collection tank for the tree nursery at a central location), and b) a strong educational component.

The recycling material will be collected in each classroom in the school. There will be 3 boxes—for plastic, metal and organic material. Then the waste will be transferred to the central depot, which is on the school grounds.

The administrator’s task is the technical overseeing of the creation and maintenance of the plant, and to work with teachers, students and the community (in general) to educate about the importance of recycling, and train students to safely and correctly collect and sort materials.

The collecting is all done in the classroom under the auspices of the community school, supervised by qualified teachers. Those working at the sorting depot are students in the junior high ‘eco-agricultura class’. They are already working with their families at farming jobs in the fields or in the markets.

For implementation, an on-site separation system for recyclables will be set up in the school (in each classroom): the facilities for storage will be built; the school will be working with the commercial buyer; the composing system and the irrigation systems for the tree nursery will be in effect; and, students will have completed their eco-agricultura course, which will allow them and their teachers to continue and modify the program if needed. Also, there will be a tree nursery, where trees are being raised to help stabilize the soil as part of the education (ecological agriculture is part of this schools curriculum).

Goals and Objectives
Objectives and indicators:

1.) Collection, processing and storage Infrastructure for organic and inorganic waste produced by the school is improved and/or built 

a. A warehouse for storage of recyclables 3.50 m wide by 4.5 m long built.

b. The roof for the existing two compartment, composting sink built for efficient composting. 

c. A rainwater capture system and tank for the forestry nursery school built.

d. A collection and processing system for organic and inorganic materials established.

2.) Teachers, students and parents are practicing the principles of recycling in schools as taught.

a. Students, teachers and parents are correctly separating waste in recycling containers. 

b. Organic waste is composted and used for the nursery trees.

c. Solid waste is stored and properly inventoried for marketing.

d. Students participate in the classification of waste materials as a part of their practices in support to the community.

e. Students are using safety equipment and washing station as taught.

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