Providing opportunities for Haitians
To help bottle suppliers and collectors, Thread offers safety instruction, micro-loans for buying sacks and other financing needs, plus guidance on managing cash flow during quarterly meetings that provide professional training and business development. There’s also a peer-to-peer mentoring program.
Ian Rosenberger, an earthquake-relief worker, founded Thread to help pull Haiti’s people out of poverty and give them more control over their lives. “If Haiti could figure out how to turn trash into money = good,” he wrote in his diary at the time.
To scale up supply, Ellen Jackowski, HP’s head of global programs, Environmental Sustainability, flew down to Haiti with Jean-Luc Lavergne, the president of Lavergne, the recycling company that helped create HP’s closed-loop recycling system. Together they investigated to see what it would take to bring ECSSA’s operations in line with the standards HP requires for its suppliers.
Overcoming safety challenges
The initial shifts were small but critical: ECSSA needed to make safety improvements on the recycling line, such as replacing the concrete blocks that workers stood on with the safer platforms, painted yellow, that HP mandates.
The deeper, longer-term changes involved bringing HP’s expertise and knowledge to bear on ECSSA’s processes to raise the quality of its output and enable ECSSA to handle more materials processing in-house.
ECSSA collects several types of plastic, some of which HP can’t have in the mix because it would contaminate the plastic in its cartridges. So the partners developed systems to create squeaky-clean streams of material to ensure that the plastics stay separate.
Dirt was another issue. Bottles in Haiti are often tossed on the ground due to a lack of sanitation and recycling infrastructure. So they’re sandy or muddy when bottle collectors pick them up. In the past, ECSSA would sort, compact and ship the bottles to the U.S., where they’d be ground up, washed and sent to Lavergne in Canada for further processing before being shipped back to HP to be turned into cartridges.
With HP’s help, ECSSA is investing in a system that will clean the bottles and grind the flake material in Haiti. That will cut costs of shipping bottles to the US for processing, bringing more revenue to ECSSA — and its collectors. The clean plastic also improves the quality of the shred, which can drive increased demand from other buyers. This, in turn, will help create even more opportunities for collectors and accelerates waste removal on the island.
All of these steps add up to big changes for recycling on the island and more opportunities for Haitian families. One bottle at a time, HP and its partners are improving lives and livelihoods, while cleaning up Haiti.
Learn more about HP ink cartridges, and how the company lowered its carbon footpront.