Reduce, reuse, recycle. On March 18th, Global Recycling Day, various organizations unite to raise awareness about this vital aspect of the circular economy. At EcoCamp, we are committed to doing our part.


Recycling is often referred to as the seventh resource. The other six natural resources of the earth —water, air, oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals—are finite, emphasizing the importance of recycling. Reducing our waste mountain by reusing products is the crux of the matter. However, like many other sectors, tourism also contributes to waste production.

Given our dedication to sustainability, we strive to foster greener tourism. We undertake various initiatives, such as: 

  • utilizing solar panels and a micro hydro-turbine to generate energy
  • collaborating with local partners and suppliers who adhere to our environmental standards
  • purifying used water with a biofiltration system

The aim is to progress daily towards achieving a zero-waste hotel in tandem with our guests.


Recycling station

To streamline waste management, we limit the number of bins at EcoCamp. This way, guests and staff can effectively separate their trash at our recycling station—the heart of our waste management system. Here, garbage is categorized into different bins: glass, paper, plastic, cans, tetra pack, cardboard, and organic.

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In EcoCamp, our staff processes small packaging that we cannot recycle, such as tea bags (because they contain both metal, plastic and paper) or used latex gloves into eco-bottles. We also clean our waste.

Subsequently, glass, plastics, metals, cartons, and tetra packs are transported twice a week to our office in Puerto Natales, where we have a designated storage space. From there, the waste is forwarded to Punta Arenas, where we collaborate with Rembre. That company gathers waste from various organizations, compresses it, and brings it to Santiago, where it collaborates with other companies that each recycle certain materials. Rembre works, for example, with Cristalerías Chile to turn glass into new glass products. 


Between September and December 2023, Rembre collected, among other things, 374 kg of plastic, 1,911 kg of glass, and 116 kg of tetra pack for us. Recycling our waste saved 67 trees and conserved 7,560 kWh of energy, equivalent to 25 months of electricity consumption for an average household.

Although transporting garbage may not seem eco-friendly, recycling plants are scarce in remote locations like Torres del Paine, making on-site processing challenging. Therefore, we aim to reduce waste, for example, by asking guests in the morning which of our three dishes they prefer for dinner to avoid food surpluses.  


Processing food leftovers

All organic waste, such as fruit peels, is composted. We mix and moisten the waste, then lay it out to dry under plastic. Once dry, it becomes compost for our greenhouse, enriching the soil for our vegetables. These products ultimately find their way onto our guests' plates.

Food scraps unsuitable for composting, such as meat, are donated to Rosa, who uses them to feed her pigs in Puerto Natales.


Composting toilets

And then there is such a thing as human waste. We use composting toilets due to their minimal water usage and soil regeneration benefits.

How do they work? Waste from toilets accumulates in composting chambers, where we split solid and liquid waste. Solid waste mixes with wood chips and undergoes heating to sustain microorganisms and activate the composting process. Liquids pass through a cleaning chamber, are filtered, and then seep into the ground.


Given the low temperatures in Patagonia, our maintenance team mixes the chambers daily, and we empty the compost at the end of the season. We use the compost for soil regeneration and as a fertilizer for our flowers, which are placed on the tables of our community domes as decorations during the summer months.

Guests do not throw their toilet paper in the toilet but in the trash can next to it, which contains a paper trash bag. Since the paper bags containing the used toilet paper cannot be recycled, we collect them once a day and burn them together in an incinerator. 

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Our staff area has a biofiltration system for the toilet water used in the employees' toilets. The water passes through a biofilter consisting of several layers, such as gravels, wood chips, and California worms, to decontaminate. The cleaned water then goes back into the ground. 


Striving for sustainability improvements

Sustainability is fundamental in our ethos. We are pleased with our recycling efforts and other initiatives and communicate about them as transparently as possible. EcoCamp has been awarded several times for its sustainability; we are recognized as a TripAdvisor Green Leader, for example. However, there is always room for improvement. Hence, we continually seek new ways and local partnerships to become even greener. 

If you have any ideas or know of organizations we could collaborate with, please get in touch. For more information on our initiatives, visit our website or blog.


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