Implementing by: City of Fortaleza, Secretary of Conservation and Public Services

Re-Cycle: Tricycles For Recyclable Waste Pickers in Fortaleza, Brazil

The Challenge

Even though informal recyclers - in Portuguese called “catadores” - contribute positively to environmental protection and resource efficiency, they are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Brazilian cities. The TUMI project “Re-ciclo” in Fortaleza seeks to improve the livelihood of catadores and, at the same time, increase Fortaleza’s recycling rates by introducing electric and manual cargo-bikes as an efficient and sustainable mode of transport. Through data collection and route optimization, the pilot also creates a valuable information basis to expand the use of cargo-bikes for further services of urban logistics in Fortaleza. Workshops, media campaigns, and sensitization activities build awareness among the population on waste separation, recycling, and the benefits of cycle-logistics.

The Process


Baseline data collection: Gathering data on mobility patterns and recycling rates of catadores in Fortaleza.

August - 2019

Meeting with associations: In addition to on-site visits to the associations of catadores, the City Hall's Technical Team organized focus groups.

January to March - 2020

Accreditation of associations and procurement planning: The accreditation was done in two phases. In the first phase, 3 associations were registered.

May - 2020 (COVID-19 Isolation)

Emergency support to catadores: During the isolation period food baskets and masks were distributed to the catadores.

May to August - 2020

Communication planning and network creation: Planning of communication actions (e.g. awareness campaigns).

August to November - 2020

Prototype of mechanical tricycles: Testing of mechanical tricycles by catadores, as well as adaption of workshops and door-to-door campaigns.

April to December - 2020

Tendering process: Tender for the acquisition of e-tricycles and repair kits.

January to April -2021

Accreditation of associations: In the second phase of the accreditation 5 more associations were registered (8 in total).

February - 2021

Delivery of the tricycles: 20 e-tricycles were delivered and five tricycle adaption workshops were held to train around 20 catadores.

May - 2021

Adaption of the e-tricycle: Adjusting the model to meet the needs of the catadores.

June - 2021

Capacity Buidling: Mechanical workshops for catadores on maintenance of e-tricycles and basic repairs (e.g. break adjustments).

June to July - 2021

New tenders: Preparing new tenders for the expansion of 'Re-ciclo' to other areas of the city.

July to August - 2021

Accreditation of associations: 12 of the 14 associations of catadores in Fortaleza are accredited in the project.

August - 2021

Door-to-door campaigns: Raising awareness by conducting door-to-door campaigns.

The Project

The project introduces locally produced e-tricycles with a cargo area, which enable catadores to use the existing infrastructure to make the waste collection safer and more efficient. The project includes the training of catadores in the maintenance of the tricycles and the implementation of awareness campaigns . Besides improving the recycling policy and working conditions for catadores and improving the sustainable transport, the project also initiates and tests the usage of electric tricycles as a solution for urban logistics in general. The experiences from the project provides a basis for city planning to support widespread introduction of mechanical and electric cargo tricycles for the catadores. Scaling this project would dramatically increase the recycling rates in Fortaleza while promoting sustainable mobility solutions.

Carliane's Story

Article: Waste pickers start using electric tricycles

Get to know the Carliane's story, a waste picker who changed from carts driven by human force to an e-tricycle for recycling solid waste and find out how the e-tricycle brought safety to her work.

Artigo: Fortaleza usa triciclos elétricos na coleta de recicláveis

Conheça a história de Carliane: a catadora trocou a carroça de propulsão humana pelo veículo elétrico no reciclagem de resíduos sólidos e a estrutura cicloviária trouxe segurança para o seu trabalho.

New article: Learning from Fortaleza’s use of e-mobility to improve waste recycling

The Municipality of Fortaleza just released a handbook collecting some lessons learned and challenges faced throughout the implementation RE-CICLO.The handbook is available to be dowloanded here

The Impacts

  • Baseline data collection of mobility patterns and recycling rates of catadores in Fortaleza,
  • Accreditation of 12 of the 14 associations of catadores in Fortaleza,
  • E-tricycle deployment for registered associations,
  • Capacity Building through tricycle adaption workshops (e.g. workshops on the maintencance of the tricycles, on basic repairs, on communication actions),
  • Improvement of working conditions for catadores using e-tricycles,
  • Awareness campaigns to sensitize citizens on benefits of recycling and cycle logistics.

Knowledge management


Take a look at the publications available on Reciclo's implementing experience:


Re-Cycle: Tricycles For Recyclable Waste Pickers supported by


CAF - Development Bank of Latin America

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