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Consumers, Waste Pickers and Recycling in Brazil… On the Cusp of Change? Kim Beecheno, Brazil Institute, King’s College London

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Presentation on theme: "Consumers, Waste Pickers and Recycling in Brazil… On the Cusp of Change? Kim Beecheno, Brazil Institute, King’s College London"— Presentation transcript:

1 Consumers, Waste Pickers and Recycling in Brazil… On the Cusp of Change? Kim Beecheno, Brazil Institute, King’s College London

2 Purpose of the Study  To show how recycling is organised in Brazil  To highlight that the situation in Brazil contrasts quite starkly with how recycling is organised in Sweden & England  Desk research: variety of sources, e.g. gov websites & official docs, NGO websites & publications, policy analysis from experts on waste, recycling and environmental issues 

3 Brazil’s Growing Waste Problem  Solid waste increased by 1.8% in 2011(double the population growth of 0.9%) to approximately 62 million tonnes in 2011  Household waste is the responsibility of the municipality and collection covers 95% of the country (not including ‘favelas’ reducing coverage to around 89%)  Illegal dumping of household waste and fly-tipping along roadsides and riverbanks is common  51% of waste goes to open-air dumps (currently 2,906 dumps in total)  28% goes to engineered landfill  21% goes to sanitary landfill

4 Basic Sanitations Problems  33 municipalities across Brazil still do not have running water  There is no collective sewage network in 2,495 municipalities throughout Brazil (out of 5,565)  Most common solution is the use of septic tanks  3,995 of Brazil's municipalities, (72%) of all municipalities did not have a basic sanitation policy in place towards the end of 2012, despite it being a legal obligation by 2010, after the creation of the National Basic Sanitation Law in 2007

5 Recycling  Consumer consciousness around recycling is low in Brazil.  BUT recycling is not new in Brazil: between 2003 and 2008, recycling rose from 5 million tons to 7.1 million tons, the equivalent of 13 % of urban waste (Ciclosoft, 2012)  Brazil is world leader in the recycling of aluminium cans (98.3 %) and second only to Japan for the recycling of PET plastic (PNSB, 2008).  Government statistics: Recycling Sector generates about US$5.5 billion per year but loses around US$3.6 billion annually by not recycling waste which is sent to controlled landfills or open-air dumps (BrasilGov, 2013).  32% of municipalities have some form of segregated waste collection scheme, generally kerbside commingled segregated collection or voluntary bring banks. Mainly in South  Focus on recycling is built around the concept of economic gain for the country, rather than around the environmental discourse which is secondary  89% of the industrial production circuit for reused raw material is separated and sorted by waste pickers, 11% by industries 

6 Waste Pickers

7 Social Movements  Creation of cooperatives across the country from 1990s, e.g. COOPEMARE in São Paulo, ASMARE in Belo Horizonte – highly organised network of cooperatives across the country  Work with some municipalities performing segregated waste collection, storing/warehousing and pressing of recyclables  National Movement for Collectors of Recyclables (MNCR) campaigns for waste picker rights since 2001

8 Waste Picker Statistics  Waste pickers now have semi-formal status – included in CBO classification of jobs  Waste pickers categorised by collection activities: e.g. scrap picker, scrap iron picker, paper/cardboard picker, scrap packager and scrap sorter.  3 types of waste picker now identified in Brazil: A) Unorganised or autonomous waste pickers B) Organised waste pickers C) Contracted waste pickers

9 Statistics Continued…  Who are they?  67% men, 33% women,10% children aged 10 to 16 (Wiego, 2011)  Low literacy rates  14% of men and 6% of women attended school  Gender differences  4.5% (just under 12,000) have a formal contract, (80% men, 20 % women)  56% of waste pickers in cooperatives or associations are women, compared to 44% men  Earnings  Average salaries generally below one minimum wage US$190- 235 (R$420-520) per month.  Men earn more than women across all age groups


11 Problems and Challenges  Stigma of job  Personal Problems  Social services of cooperatives VS economic function  Poor management in cooperatives  Unfair remuneration

12 Policy – change on the horizon?  New National Solid Waste Policy, Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos, (‘PNRS’), 2010. National Solid Waste Plan currently being implemented.  SHARED RESPONSIBILITY for the life-cycle of a product from producers to consumers.  REVERSE LOGISTICS, for the first time producers are responsible for the return of their ‘waste’ products to the production chain.  Closure of all open-air dumps by 2014 and creation of engineered landfills  Obligatory for municipalities to implement household source- segregation schemes that include waste picker cooperatives. Municipalities that do not, will not have access to federal funding for waste management.

13 Overview  ‘Consumption work’ is very different in Brazil compared to England and Sweden  Little environmental consciousness around recycling at the moment  Consumers currently play only a small role in the division of labour within waste disposal and recycling – could change  Brazil has high recycling rates for some materials but this is dependent on market forces and informal work of waste pickers  Recycling work is mainly carried out by waste pickers who are part of the informal economy and it is a survival strategy although greater formalisation and inclusion is occurring  Implementation of new solid waste policy 2010 (PNRS) could bring substantial change but this remains to be seen


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