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The power of education in the Circular Economy

A Circular Economy initiative that takes students on educational trips with half the costs guaranteed by the sale of recyclable materials. This is the RecycleWays, a project by students at the Francisco Morato State Technical School (Etec), in Greater São Paulo, which was the winner of the São Paulo Circular Challenge 2022.

Since 2015 the RecycleWays mobilizes students, teachers and the community to recycle waste such as cooking oil, metal, plastic and electronic waste. Experience that was told by the group in the video that won the top prize of the Challenge.

The project was chosen after nearly three months of the Circular Challenge initiative; event organized by Movimento Circular, in partnership with Dow and Coopercaps, with support from Centro Paula Souza and the government of São Paulo, to connect the circular agenda to schools in the state.

Come and learn about this winning initiative’s story!

From Francisco Morato (SP) to the world

It all started in 2015, when the school noticed the difficulty of many students of the business administration course to pay for a technical visit to the Port of Santos, part of the logistics discipline program.

The sustainability approach of this discipline generated the first insight to solve the problem: to raise funds through reverse logistics. This is what the RecycleWays advisor, Wagner Vieira, course coordinator, tells us.

“After brainstorming, we decided to revisit the purpose of the trip with payment being made with the sale of used cooking oil. So, we drew up a project in which this waste would be collected and sold, and the proceeds of this process would pay for the trip”.


Francisco Morato's community embraced the cause. Residents donated waste and companies bought recyclables. Thus, the project grew and over 500 students were able to visit other sites and learn about the professional practice of waste recycling.

The year 2019, for example, was a milestone. That's when the Circular Economy initiative was named RecycleWays and took 42 students and seven teachers to Foz do Iguaçu (PR), Argentina and Paraguay. More than half of the costs were paid by selling recyclables. “The students worked hard for six months (...). It was the most daring experience in my professional career”, recalls Vieira.

Earlier this month, a delegation of 54 people, including students and educators took another trip to both countries by. This year alone, the project raised R$67,000 - R$35,000 of which came from the sale of recycled materials.

According to the students, this year RecycleWays gained version 2.0, which includes a new and larger space for the selection and sorting of recyclable materials and a greater number of materials. For them, the project goal has been achieved; Participants leave the experience transformed and ready to transform the world through the Circular Economy.

“Students at RecycleWays do exactly what is at the heart of the proposal that the Circular Movement wants to take to the world, which is to educate about the Circular Economy in order to transform reality. They show how education for the Circular Economy can bring about significant transformations, when the entire community is engaged”, says Vinicius Saraceni, Circular Movement coordinator.

And how about now with the awards?

The RecycleWays group will receive mentorship to improve the idea, visit Dow's Pack Studios (innovation and technology center), in Jundiaí (SP) and will have their material transformed into a video case, published on all Circular Movement channels. Inspiration to spare and more publicity to make this idea win the world!

Circular Movement and the planet thank you

We were very happy with the participation of all at the Circular Challenge São Paulo 2022, not only for being part of another chapter in this project, but also for how dedicated they were to developing super creative ideas for a world without waste.

Discover the other finalist projects in the Challenge (click on the links to learn more):

Collect +, a team from Etec Jorge Street, in São Caetano do Sul, guided by teacher Ademir Joaquim Telles. (2nd place).

From Trash to Shelf (3rd place), Sustainable Cycle (4th place) and Friendly Paper (5th place). All from Etec Professor Jadyr Salles, from Porto Ferreira, guided by Teacher Maria Salete Zufelato Vencel.

What is the circular economy?

The Circular Economy proposes a new look at our way of producing, consuming, and disposing, in order to optimize the planet's resources and generate less and less waste. In other words, an alternative model to the Linear Economy - to extract, produce, use and discard - which has proved to be increasingly unsustainable throughout history. In the Circular Economy, the goal is to keep materials in circulation longer by reusing them until nothing becomes waste! For this model to become a reality, we all have a role to play. It is a true collaborative circle, which feeds itself, and helps to regenerate the planet and our relations.

Learn about Circular Economy

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, visit Circular Academy, the first free Latin American course on circular economy aimed at general audiences. All of us, in partnership and collaboration, can make a difference in building a more circular planet.

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