Brazil generates 79 million tons of solid waste every year

Selective trash collection is far from ubiquitous

Published in 08/11/2019 - 16:20 By Ludmilla Souza - São Paulo

In Brazil, 79 million tons of urban solid waste were produced I 2018—an increase of less than one percent from the previous year. Of this total, 92 percent (72.7 million) were was collected—up 1.66 percent against 2017. This shows that collection rose at a slightly higher pace than the generation of garbage. Nonetheless, 6.3 million tons of waste remained uncollected across the cities.

The figures come from the solid waste outlook of the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies (Abrelpe), published today (Nov. 8). Taking into account all Latin American countries, Brazil ranks first for trash generation, and accounts for 40 percent of the total generated in the region (541 thousand tons a day, as per UN Environment).

“The numbers listed in the outlook bring Brazil to a position considerably below other countries with the same income level. Our deficit is significant and we really need urgent measures not just to redress it, but to advance towards better management practices for solid waste,” said Abrelpe President Carlos Silva Filho.

Estimates based on the time series shows that Brazil will reach a generation of 100 million tons a year around 2030. “What we’ve been seeing is an increase in Brazil’s trash production, but sorting them out appropriately, as well as recycling and recovery, are not on a par with this growth,” Silva Filho said.

Collection under threat

One out of every 12 Brazilians have no regular waste collection service at their doorstep. One of the reasons behind it, Abrelpe’s president noted, is lack of funding. “We have two issues. One is the lack of awareness about the importance of the appropriate management of solid waste in protecting the environment and preventing diseases. This perception is not so clear among members of society and public officials. The second, a more serious one, is the fact that this is a municipal duty, and municipalities are indebted enough as it is. There’s no funding to afford all this process,” Filho pointed out.

Environmental awareness

Abrelpe stressed that selective waste collection is far from ubiquitous in Brazil, and recycling rates have been stagnant for nearly a decade. While the world talks about circular economy and more advanced ways to sort and reuse garbage, the association argues, the country still has landfills in every region and needs to tackle a behavior problem among the population: Brazilian are still learning how to dispose of trash and separate the recyclable waste.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Lílian Beraldo / Nira Foster

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