Panama’s La Joyita prison was notorious for being filthy, overcrowded and dangerous, when Franklin Ayón, an agronomist who was imprisoned for drug trafficking in 2012, designed a recycling scheme that he named EcoSólidos. Ten years on, 500 prisoners are involved and about 80% of the prison’s waste is recycled. Plastic and aluminium are sold, while food waste is turned into compost for the prison’s gardens. A nursery donates 1,500 tree seedlings a year to a reforestation scheme run by Panama’s environment ministry. The scheme has been replicated in four other prisons in Panama. In 2016, Ayón was granted a presidential pardon and created GeoAzul, which employs former inmates to collect waste in Panama City and turn it into compost. It now processes more than 10 tonnes of waste a day.

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