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3. Reinventing the future of plastic

Yoyo: Recycling all plastic. Impossible? We’ve already started!

The Yoyo team
p. 92-95

Abstract

By 2025, almost 80% of the world’s population will live in densely populated areas. Cities produce mountains of waste, consuming the most and sorting the least; plastic recycling reaches only 20% in urban areas. We are at a defining moment. If we want our lifestyles to become sustainable, we will all have to learn new ways of dealing with our household waste. Faced with this situation, city-dweller communities were determined to act. They decided to join together to embody the vitally needed change – bottle by bottle – and that’s how Yoyo was born.
Yoyo.eco is a digital and human solution that rewards people who sort more and better to offset the environmental impact of what they consume. In 2018, Yoyo was operational in six cities and its 15,000 sorter residents had recycled 2 million bottles via a French-based short recycling circuit. Yoyo has proved that with resolutely positive ecology it is possible to double the amount of plastic recycled in French cities – and reduce drastically plastic pollution.

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Full text

Why Yoyo?

The company’s origin and aims

1Humanity faces some alarming environmental challenges. First is the 300 kilos of plastic released into the world’s oceans every second. Next, and this is the founding idea behind Yoyo, is the fact that cities are where people consume the most but recycle the least. Today, close to 75% of French people live in urban areas, yet average plastic recycling rates are flatlining at around 20%.

2The public policy environment favors better recycling performance and setting up new mechanisms to run alongside existing waste collection organizations. The aim is to recycle 100% of plastics by 2025. France’s roadmap for a circular economy favors positive initiatives in the social and solidarity economy.

Development milestones

Development milestones

3Yoyo is a company that works with public and private sector partners to roll out a project to double neighborhood plastic recycling rates. Its aim is to combat pollution in cities by capturing 100% of waste plastic flows. The plan is to reach out to those who sort the most and the best. Yoyo works by rewarding people for sorting carefully, mobilizing communities of like-minded locals. By sharing their best practices, we help people to reduce the impact of their day-to-day consumption.

4Yoyo uses green-awareness to build neighborhood social ties, pulling together all the actors in any given area to achieve the goal of recycling all plastics by 2025. Yoyo also delivers 100% traceability for plastics and, most important of all, a community of coaches and sorters whose plastics recycling rate improves from 20% to 90% in a single year.

What is Yoyo?

Recycling all plastic – Is it impossible? We’ve already made a start!

5The way that Yoyo works is actually quite simple. We set up in an area and set to work with a very wide range of actors. We partner with waste collection authorities and local government as well as businesses, bottled water companies, retailers and public venues such as Pathé cinemas and the Mama Shelter and Novotel hotel chains.

6The Yoyo system is simple: sorters sign up to the platform in three clicks, they then choose the Coach nearest to them, drop in to pick up their first bag, and then start filling it with plastic bottles. Once full, the bags are returned to the Coach. This is when Coach and sorter are rewarded for their involvement. Once the Coach’s storage space is full, we request a pick-up and deliver the bottles to the nearest recycling center, ensuring that 100% of recycling follows a short circuit and stays in France.

Key levers

7The rewards system is Yoyo’s number one lever: we reward careful sorting with tickets to the cinema or a soccer match, a range of environmentally friendly products, etc. Rewards are by far the leading driver for getting people involved.

8Yoyo’s other lever is the Coach. Coaches create and maintain their sorter community. They strengthen neighborhood social ties and help put people in need in contact with social centers and nonprofits. We provide our coaches with support and training to help them increase their skills and knowledge. Our aim is to have every Coach become a true local ambassador, spreading the word in their neighborhood about how to help the environment.

Testimony from Thierry Herpin. Picture-framer and Yoyo Coach (Bordeaux - France)

Testimony from Thierry Herpin. Picture-framer and Yoyo Coach (Bordeaux - France)

I was the very first Yoyo Coach of all! I can store 70 bags at my workplace. I trigger a pick-up from the platform about once a month and Yoyo sends a truck round the next day. It’s really no bother!
I signed up in July 2017 and I’ll soon be packing off my 1,000th bag – something I’m very proud of.

I’ve swapped all the points I’ve earned for gifts for people in need: tickets to the museum for kids who’ve dropped out of school, cinema tickets for the local Red Cross and so on. I donate everything to local nonprofits.

I know it’s a drop in the ocean, but at least I’m doing my bit, like the hummingbird.

Yoyo in figures

Yoyo in figures

Above all, Yoyo is a tool for mobilizing sorter communities

9The rewards-based approach helps Yoyo raise people’s awareness about wider environmental challenges. For example, we’re seeing a 15% uplift in recycling rates for other materials in neighborhoods where we operate.

10In a more general sense, local people become more aware of the impact their consumption has, thanks to a range of actions run in partnership with city governments and local nonprofits, such as litter cleanups, visits to waste sorting centers, workshops, training sessions, etc. Members of the Yoyo community discover and adopt environmentally friendly practices as part of their everyday lives, joining a wider movement to improve management of the urban ecology.

Yoyo’s results

  • Yoyo captures over 90% of PET flows for each person who joins the sorter community (equivalent to collection rates in Germany with the deposit system).

  • The sorting error rate for plastics collected by Yoyo is lower than 1%.

  • At neighborhood level, collection and recycling rates are an average three times higher with the Yoyo system.

Three questions for Eric Brac de la Perrière, Founder of Yoyo

Three questions for Eric Brac de la Perrière, Founder of Yoyo

Where do you see Yoyo in a year’s time? Then in five years or ten years?

Yoyo is the digital and human solution that hands out rewards to people who sort more and better to offset the environmental impact of what they consume.

In the space of one year, Yoyo has proved that resolutely positive ecology can double the amount of plastic recycling in 30 French cities, and slow the flow of pollution. In five years’ time, everybody in France will have access to a Yoyo project close to home. In ten years’ time, the Yoyo rewards platform will be used by a large section of the population and by numerous businesses and cities that want to offset their impact and massively reduce their collection and recycling costs.`

Is it really possible to achieve 100% recycling for plastics?

Yoyo is already working with 5,000 French families who are achieving 100% plastic recycling. Daring to reward people and providing 100% traceability right across the circuit is a great way to encourage people and earn their trust. Our challenge is to grow our community so that we can reach as many people as possible.

What does working for ecology mean to you?

It’s about creating a new ecosystem that will mean consumption has zero negative environmental impacts. Ecology is real when it enables as many people as possible to act quickly and simply to change the situation. Ecology is also a matter of building and using easily understood indicators to measure impacts, making it simpler to adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

To find out more:

Website: yoyo.eco
Facebook: @Yoyo.eco
Contact:
contact@yoyo.eco

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List of illustrations

URL http://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/docannexe/image/5450/img-1.jpg
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Title Development milestones
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Title Testimony from Thierry Herpin. Picture-framer and Yoyo Coach (Bordeaux - France)
Caption I was the very first Yoyo Coach of all! I can store 70 bags at my workplace. I trigger a pick-up from the platform about once a month and Yoyo sends a truck round the next day. It’s really no bother! I signed up in July 2017 and I’ll soon be packing off my 1,000th bag – something I’m very proud of. I’ve swapped all the points I’ve earned for gifts for people in need: tickets to the museum for kids who’ve dropped out of school, cinema tickets for the local Red Cross and so on. I donate everything to local nonprofits. I know it’s a drop in the ocean, but at least I’m doing my bit, like the hummingbird.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/docannexe/image/5450/img-6.jpg
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Title Yoyo in figures
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Title Three questions for Eric Brac de la Perrière, Founder of Yoyo
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References

Bibliographical reference

The Yoyo team, « Yoyo: Recycling all plastic. Impossible? We’ve already started! », Field Actions Science Reports, Special Issue 19 | 2019, 92-95.

Electronic reference

The Yoyo team, « Yoyo: Recycling all plastic. Impossible? We’ve already started! », Field Actions Science Reports [Online], Special Issue 19 | 2019, Online since 01 March 2019, connection on 17 October 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/5450

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About the author

The Yoyo team

Yoyo is a collaborative platform that rewards inhabitants who sort more and better their used plastic bottles so that these can be directly recycled in a French-based short circuit.
Yoyo is a digital startup founded in 2017 by Éric Brac de la Perrière. A graduate of France’s Institute of Advanced National Defense Studies, he managed several communications companies before being appointed in 2009 head of Eco-Emballages, the body responsible for organizing recycling of household packaging waste in France. Eight years later he created a new and innovative project, one designed to deliver faster and better to tackle plastic pollution quickly and efficiently. His idea is to roll out a positive, complex-free approach to grassroots ecology, giving everybody the tools and motivation to cut the impact of their consumption.

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Copyright

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

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