Environmental nonprofit adopts McKinsey's Rethinking Recycling initiative

Delterra will receive $6 million in multiyear funding, as well as a $3.5 million challenge grant and additional in-kind support, from McKinsey & Co.

October 13, 2021

McKinsey & Co. is a founding partner in a new environmental nonprofit known as Delterra, which has adopted the company’s Rethinking Recycling initiative as a flagship project. McKinsey & Co. will provide $6 million in multiyear funding, as well as a $3.5 million challenge grant and additional in-kind support, to help realize Rethinking Recycling’s goal of delivering recycling to countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa.

McKinsey.org launched Rethinking Recycling in 2018. Over the last three years, the initiative has built scalable, self-sustaining recycling ecosystems in Indonesia and Argentina, including solutions for plastics and organic waste, according to a news release issued by Delterra. The nonprofit says it believes the initiative has reached an inflection point and is ready to further accelerate and scale its impact.

In the coming years, Delterra says it will add other initiatives to its portfolio that are designed to develop scalable solutions that redesign human systems for the good of people and the planet. 

Through its proof-of-concept and scale-up programs in Indonesia and Argentina, Delterra says Rethinking Recycling is on track to bring recycling and waste management services to more than 250,000 people by 2022, most of whom had no access to recycling solutions before. Its programs have also achieved recycling rates of up to 60 percent, which is higher than those of most U.S. cities. To date Rethinking Recycling has improved the livelihoods of more than 450 waste workers, many of whom are marginalized women, by increasing their salaries by up to 200 percent and providing them with access to health care and safe working environments, Delterra says.

Shannon Bouton, president and CEO of Delterra, which is headquartered in Washington, says, “We are a very different organization today than when we first formed in 2018 as part of McKinsey.org. In many ways, adopting a new name and identity of our own is the next logical step in our growth journey. We are thrilled that our Rethinking Recycling programs will continue to operate in our new home, Delterra. The team and I are very excited to create the next phase of impact and to deliver Delterra’s mission of redesigning human systems at scale for the good of people and the planet.”

Michael Silber, senior partner, global social responsibility, at New York-based McKinsey, says, “McKinsey & Co. is committed to helping organizations create positive, enduring change in the world and to realize sustainable, inclusive growth. Through McKinsey.org, we have incubated nonprofits to develop innovative approaches to the world’s most pressing problems. The Rethinking Recycling initiative has been an important part of our approach to societal responsibility, which includes empowering our people to give back to their communities, operating our firm in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible and working with our clients to serve all stakeholders and achieve holistic impact. As Rethinking Recycling transitions out of McKinsey.org to Delterra, McKinsey & Co. will continue our support of this initiative and the nonprofit.”

"Five years ago we embarked, as part of the city of Buenos Aires government, on the Barrio Mugica integration project, a historic transformation of one of the city's most iconic settlements,” says Donatella Orsi, director of economic integration, Ministry of Human Development, Buenos Aires. “Although hard infrastructure issues were the most pressing ones, we strongly believed that inclusive, collaborative projects focused on sustainability also had their place. Rethinking Recycling’s Barrio Mugica project is one of these highly successful initiatives of our integration project. Rethinking Recycling partnered with city staff and 13 local labor cooperatives to provide the residents with door-to-door waste collection and recycling services: a win-win for everyone. Cooperatives now benefit from the income generated by the sale of recyclables, and local residents are increasingly proud of their improved surroundings."