More information in Portuguese about this award-winning program.
Selective waste management is crucial for minimizing the impact on the environment and on citizens' health. It promotes reduction of waste at its source, re-usage and recycling of prime materials, generation of income with social inclusion, as well as reducing environmental damage caused by burial of residues. In Brazil, since the 1990s, municipal waste management programs developed in partnership with waste collection cooperatives and associations have become a model of public policy. However, these programs face common challenges, such as the rising numbers of lone collectors who compete with already institutionalized organizations, or the low rate of selective waste collection and the lack of autonomy of the collection groups.
The Londrina Selective Waste Management Program - "Recycling Lives" - brings answers to some of these. The Program is developed by the municipal government together with 26 NGOs, responsible for the collection, triage and commercialization of the recycled material. Besides social inclusion and income generation, the experience's main goals are a higher recycling rate and the development of a strategy allowing Program sustainability and NGO autonomy.
Although the municipality has had selective waste management since 1996, previously collection was carried out door-to-door by government trucks, attending only 10 thousand of Londrina's 150 thousand residences. Gradually broadened, in 2000 collection had reached 30 thousand residences, recovering four tons of material a day which was sent on to a triage central staffed by public employees.
"Recycling Lives" started off by removing garbage pickers from the dump and incorporating these workers in the selective waste collection. The area covered rose to 50 thousand residences. Negotiations then took place to integrate street collectors, who felt threatened by the Program, forming an initial group made up of 20 dump pickers and 30 carrinheiros - street waste collectors operating with hand-carts. These workers set up the first NGO to work at the triage center, in partnership with the City Hall.
One of the innovative characteristics of the Program is the contracting of the regular residential waste collection companies at an overall price, and not by tonnage, as is usual. Thus, it is in the company's interest to reduce the quantity of waste, supporting the recyclable waste collection.
Pressure from the now organized street collectors caused a gradual decentralization process and the creation of 26 NGOs, with 474 people, among collectors and people from the neighborhoods. This creation of NGO's was considered ideal to avoid problems with labor law charges, the Government Bid Law and political changes. The area around the city center, which corresponds to 80% of residences, was divided and shared out among the groups. This sectioning the city and the incorporation of street collectors avoids rival collections.
In each area, the NGOs promote neighborhood awareness. Collection is carried out with vehicles, hand-carts and animal traction carts. The recyclable material collected is stored at points called bandeiras - "flags - where it is removed by government trucks which transport the material to the triage sheds. From the sheds, the material is sent to the Weighing and Pressing Central, where sales are coordinated, seeking to bring up sales prices and cut out middlemen, guaranteeing a better income for the associates. The Central is administrated by representatives of all the NGOs. The income obtained with sale of materials, after payment of general expenses, is shared among the NGO members. Around 80% of these workers are women. Some 90 tons of waste material are collected each month, corresponding to 23% of the total amount of waste which would have been sent to the municipal dump, which has gained a longer life due to the reduction in solid waste disposal.