Our 'Lemon Aide' project is boosting the rate of plastic bottle recycling in France by building a community-oriented social enterprise that collects and recycles waste. Along the way, it creates jobs for the long-term unemployed people as well as for people with low workforce qualifications. In 2015, the Danone Ecosystem Fund and Danone Eaux France co-founded the project with the French start-up Lemon Tri, a specialist in innovative recycling solutions, and the Foundation for Action against Exclusion (FACE).
Why does it matter?
In France, only about one in two plastic bottles is recycled—a figure that falls to one in five in Paris, Marseille and other major cities. Meanwhile, unemployment has reached a record high. The project has joined the quest for innovative recycling solutions that will get more of its bottles into the recycling bins, help it source high quality recycled plastic, and create employment opportunities for people who are shut out of the job market.
How does it work?
'Lemon Aide' runs on a socially inclusive business model, giving people job opportunities and providing them with social support, training and mentoring. The project is also creating a new network for collection and recycling of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic and other recyclables, and promoting social entrepreneurship in the circular economy.
How does this project create value?
The impact of 'Lemon Aide' is threefold: social, environmental and economic. It helps people with no qualifications develop skills through training and new job opportunities. It promotes recycling of plastic bottles, contributes to the circular economy and enhances the quality of recycled plastic.
“ I’ve been in the recycling business for a long time, coming from a family of metal and factory equipment recyclers. I discovered Lemon Aide thanks to my personal advisor at the Employment Center. I immediately liked the idea of working in the field of recycling, a sector that is dear to me because of my family history. At Lemon Aide, I was able to mobilize skills that I learned in my previous experiences. I have had various jobs during my career: plumber, boilermaker, chauffeur. In my personal life, I hate waste. I like collecting old objects, working with materials, repairing them to restore their value.”
Emmanuel Tortoloni, recycler, Lemon Aide, France