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1 
Recycling materials public system of collect: 
evaluation of a study case in Santo André, Brazil 
 
 
LIMA, G. L. Universidade Federal do ABC – UFABC. Rua Santa Adélia, 116, Bangu, CEP 09210-
170, Tel. (055) 11 4994-3152, gilson.lameira@ufabc.edu.br 
 
 
 
 
Abstract 
 
Actually all public policy in the field of urban solid waste consider selective collect as an important 
way to face the problem of garbage generation, mainly in the perspective of reduce the pressure on 
landfill waste destination, sources of raw materials and energy conservation. 
In Brazil the generation of dry waste, as a typical way to recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass, 
represents, in weight, approximately 40% of all domestic and public waste. 
In São Paulo city, 11 millions of inhabitants, the gravimetric composition indicates 38,61% of 
typical dry waste: 11,08% of papers (white and cardboard), 16,49% of plastics (soft, hard and pet), 
2,18% of metals, 1,79% of glass and 7,07% of other recycling materials. These values only 
concerns the materials derived from the public cleanness service, not including materials 
recuperated from the action of informal agents. Only in the city of São Paulo the local authority 
estimates the action of 20,000 informal collectors – people who gets recycling material for their 
own subsistence. 
The metropolitan region of São Paulo is composed by 39 cities and about 20 million inhabitants. 
Santo André, 680,000 inhabitants, is one of these cities and the unique who practices public “door 
to door” selective collect of recycling waste. 
Although this practice remains in operation for several years, in the city, the annual amount of 
recycling materials saved from landfill closes on 2%. This amount suggests an important limitation 
in the perspective of de program or its economic impracticability. 
An institutional research realized in a Santo André urban sector diagnosticated several problems in 
the administration of the program, by the municipality, with low priority in the investments on 
community environmental education. In the community people understands the waste recycling 
relevance but feels not stimulated to participate of the program. 
Another research result indicates quantity and quality discrepancies between recycling materials 
placed for public collect and the materials effectively collected by the public collect system, 
suggesting the real importance of the informal collectors network. 
Besides the diagnostic, the research result offers to the municipality recommendations to increase 
and sustain the community adhesion to the program in the perspective of increasing the amount of 
landfill saved recycling materials. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2 
Introduction 
Santo André is a singular city. It is situated at Paulista ABC, the brazilian most industrializated 
region and headquarter of the automobilistic industry, near São Paulo, city responsible for 12% of 
Brazilian GNP and 7,5% of its urban population, mainly formed by northeast migrants that flocked 
in great migrant movements between 1950 and 1970 decades. 
In the last 20 years Santo André attempted an intense economic exhaustion in the industry field 
caused by the global productive economic restrutcturation. 
Santo André is a national reference in the progressist public policies field. This attribute was 
conquered after a sequence of municipal government played by Partido dos Trabalhadores and 
leadered by Celso Daniel, an important brazilian politician, mayor of Santo André for three times 
and tragically murdered in 2002. 
A good example of this leadership was the public policy implemented in the field of environment 
sanitation. Santo André was the first and the only such case in Brasil to turn into reality the 
Integrated Sanitation Concept, when structured under a unique coordination the services gestion of 
water supply, sewerage system, urban drainage, solid waste, urban disaster and environment 
control, through a municipal autarchy, as well has created specific financial support for its 
institutional programs. 
In Brazil, São Paulo Metropolitan Region was always in forefront of public policies to get solutions 
for dramatic urban problems, as well as solid waste treatment and destination. That occurred with 
the transformation process of the primitive solid waste management system, directly operated by 
municipality under nimby concept, without environmental control, placing it in farther areas from 
urban settlement. In this way São Paulo city begun in the middle of the 1970 decade a new modality 
of urban waste management based in a technical approach of waste treatment and destination, 
considering the construction of landfills as an engineering problem, and compost plants for organic 
and dry waste portions recycling, aggregating the international experience at that moment. 
Santo André followed this transformation process introducing a similar quality system of Compost 
Plant and Landfill, placing with São Paulo, at that moment, in the vanguard management of solid 
waste in Brazil. In spite of the effort for technological actualization, in São Paulo city the waste 
material saving from landfill reached in 2000 a top limit of 7.97% above the whole mass of waste 
collected by municipality (TIVERON, 2001). In Santo André, the recycling operation through the 
Compost Plant reached its maximum level in 1991, when 14.1%, in mass, of the waste public 
collect, were saved from landfill (PMSA, 1992). 
Actually both cities have no practice of recuperating the waste organic portion, because their 
Compost Plants were deactivated and nothing new was built. Now São Paulo and Santo André 
develop social programs play by organized catadores – people who lives catching dry recycling 
materials from the streets of the cities. In 2008 the amount of recycling materials saved from 
landifills by this model was not over than 1%, in mass, from the whole solid waste collected by 
public system (BRASI, 2008). This fact generates perplexity if we considerate there are real people 
disposition in that cities to act in favor of environment. In adition these cities have differencial 
conditions, in Brazil, to finance more audacious programs (São Paulo) or innovate programs based 
on the accumulation of experience in the field of environmental public policies (Santo André). To 
debate the reasons that generate this perplexity is the objective of this article. 
 
The actual brazilian situation (Brazil, São Paulo, Santo André) 
As the consequence of an untimely industrialization process and high taxes of income 
concentration, Brazil as well as other countries of Latin America presents high level of organic 
portion in the gravimetric composition of the waste collected from domiciliary places, 
independently of city size, as informed in the Figure 01. 
3 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The brazilian urban population is over than 153 million inhabitants. In Brazil the regular collect of 
indistinguished waste is universalized, with a preponderant collect frequency service of two or three 
times a week. From the 50 millions waste year tons generates in Brazil, ¼ goes to landfills and ¾ 
goes to improper manner of waste destination – graveyard. In Brazil the average of urban solid 
waste is 0,97 Kg/ inhabitant/day and domiciliary is 0,73 Kg/ inhabitant/day (BRASIL, 2008). The 
average of urban waste collect cost is US$47.22 while the average cost for recycling materials is 
US$204.00 (CEMPRE, 2010). 
In spite of the significant magnitude of the presence of waste organic portion in Brazil, the specific 
public policies for compost production didn`t have continuation. Compost Plants turned old-
fashioned or were shutted away. In the last two decades we saw in São Paulo city and Santo André 
a real regression situation in the field of urban solid waste management, as illustrated in Figure 02.Figure 02. Discontinuity of public policies for saving urban waste destination to landfill 
Figure 01. Basic composition of urban solid waste in Brazil, São Paulo city and Santo André 
 
 
4 
This regression situation is explained by the deactivation of Leopoldina and São Mateus Compost 
Plants, in São Paulo city and São Jorge Compost Plant in Santo André. These deactivations closed 
a long term operational cycle without investments or technological renovation or any significant 
public policy compensation. This situation was aggravated after the deactivation of all public 
landifills in São Paulo city (Bandeirantes/ 2007 and São João/ 2009) and Santo André (São Jorge/ 
2009). After than, the 10,500 ton/ day of urban solid waste generated in São Paulo city and 680 ton/ 
day generated in Santo André were destined to private landfills located out of these cities. 
 
Management of urban dry solid waste n Brazil 
In a context of a complete abandonment of organic recycling in Brazil the dry portion of urban solid 
waste reached more relative importance. 
When we percept the brazilian situation, we can note that the recycling of dry urban waste came 
from selective collect institutional practice is recent and incipient. In Brazil municipality is 
responsible for the management of urban solid waste. There are 5564 cities whose insertion in this 
practice come increasing as informed in Figure 03. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The earlier registration of significant actions of urban waste selective collect is dated from 1989 
since the municipal government of Luisa Erundina, mayor of São Paulo city at that time. 
 
Selective collect of dry urban waste 
Differently of the most industrialized countries in the world, the management of recyclables urban 
dry waste in Brasil is not desirable only through the implementation of capital factors, but through 
the consideration of poor people insertion into the system. If in Europe, by exemplification, the 
solution for urban waste treatment and destination advanced upon the concept of valorization, 
aggregating many alternatives of business for private enterprises, in Brazil, like in Latin America, 
there is a different reality and to come up against this problem means the consideration of a great 
number of people excluded from formal job market and living under the poverty line. That people 
survive everyday collecting urban dry recycle materials. 
Figure 03. Brazilian municipalities progression for recycling program implementation 
 
5 
Today exists a real army of people that circulate by the streets of the cities, generally under social 
risk conditions. Although there is no statistics about it, an unofficial estimation informs between 
300,000 and one million person living under that condition in Brazil, or 20,000 in São Paulo city or 
2,000 in Santo André. 
In Santo André there are two programs of waste collect. In the first one are collected 680 ton/ day of 
undifferenciated waste. In the second are collected 23 ton/ day of recyclabe dry waste. Santo André 
realizes this second and universalized program since 2000, attending over than 175,000 residences 
through a door-to-door system, with a commercialization rate of 50% (LIMA, 2012). A half of all 
recyclables materials collected is refused. This situation indicates an actual recycling rate in the city 
of only 1,7%, in mass, considering all waste collect by public system. 
 
The social insertion model for poor people 
The program of selective collect of urban dry waste was institutionalized since 1999 as a pilot-
program that was consolidated as an universal and door-to-door program in 2000. The concept was 
inspired in a well successful experience developed by Porto Alegre municipality in the brazilian 
state of Rio Grande do Sul. 
The model basic idea was to support catadores groups, by municipality, offering to them better 
conditions to manipulate materials, as well as, shed, equipments and work devices; special advisory 
for the group get better conditions to develop the enterprise and autonomy for new business. 
In Santo André case the program derived from a municipal public policy conceived to stimulate 
work and income generation prioritizing alternatives forms of work. 
The model conception considered a partnership with two work cooperatives societies. The first one 
named as CoopCicla was integrated to the program in 1999, and the second named as Coop Cidade 
Limpa was integrated in 2000. 
By the partnership conditions the municipality offered to cooperatives a minimum infra-structure to 
process dry recycle materials, in order to commercialize them, and to deliver all dry waste material 
collected by door-to-door public system of collect (82%, in mass) and by PEV`s - voluntary 
delivery station (18%, in mass). 
The PEV`s constitute a network of 15 stations for free reception of recyclable materials, spreaded 
around the city. PEV`s model was originated from a original experience in Brazil realized by the 
municipality of Santo André in 1992 named as Tordesilhas Station (PMSA, 1992) and increased to 
all city through concept developed by Núcleo de Inovações em Políticas Públicas of Santo André 
municipality (LIMA, 1998). 
 
Positives aspects of the model: 
a. The catador person turns into a public environment protector agent, recognized by society 
as a soldier fighting for a better environmental condition; 
b. The catador person wins an opportunity to get a higher and stabilized income, selling 
continuously through his organization, recyclable materials; 
c. A portion of informal workers gets away from a social risk situation to a better and 
structured life condition; 
d. Society wins a new instrument to promote environment sustainability, through stabilized and 
associative social work. 
 
 
6 
Negatives aspects of the model: 
a. The institutional arrangement only reaches a limited portion of the total number of informal 
workers; 
b. The associative organization income is continuous, but inconstant, following market prices 
oscillations; 
c. The recyclable materials “production” is unsatisfactory, frustrating the society expectation 
for an appropriated solution to dry solid waste destination; 
d. There is uncertainty about the market capacity to assimilate increment of recyclable 
materials offering; 
e. There is a great turnover of associate members of cooperatives indicating dissatisfaction of 
them with the arrangement model; 
f. The cooperatives don`t have business competence installed to guarantee the increase of 
income of its members; 
g. The cooperatives income results exclusively from recyclable materials commercialization. 
 
The mainly reasons that contribute for model unsuccessfulness: 
a. Reductionist character of this public policy 
In this case, the public power vision, consider that the solution for urban dry recyclables materials 
management is restrict to infrastructure factors and constitution and legitimate workers group, allied 
to contracted services of waste collect and destination. A continuous incentive to the community 
for increase its Program participation and the correct waste segregation in source are not primordial 
Program objectives; 
b. Prevalence of ideological vision of labour organization over systemic process; 
The cooperative workers organization is only considered on its formal aspect. Cooperativism is an 
specific way of life. It demands time and culture to create conditions for collaborative labor. 
c. Character paternalistic of the model 
The model presents an asymmetric relationship between public power and the cooperatives. The 
usufruct of infrastructure is precarious and the alternation of government administration impose to 
the cooperatives an insecurity situation; 
 
The unsuccessfulness of the model may be evidenced by the following argumentation: 
• The potencial of dry recyclable solid waste materialsis over than 36%, in mass, of total 
urban waste generate in Santo André. Actually excluding the refuse processed material the 
system rating reaches only 2,7% (CORNIERI, 2011); 
• Although Brazil be a “world champion” of aluminium recycling only 2% of urban waste 
gravimetric composition is constituted by aluminium. This fact indicates an important 
contention between informal and institutionalized agents of urban waste recycling materials; 
• The rate of materials refuse in gravimetric composition of urban recyclable waste in Santo 
André (16%) derive from the presence of organic substances and no commercializables 
material. After processing by cooperatives the rate of recycling material refuse reaches 50% 
in mass (LIMA, 2012). 
 
 
7 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Conclusion 
Overcome the difficulties require the following model adjustments: 
a. Its necessary consider the work of these associative organizations like essentials for the society 
life by act for sustainable environment; 
b. Introduction in the system of a third sector organization for permanent close action to community 
to objectify more level of integration with the Program; 
c. Create an organization by municipality, through specific law, a stock-exchange for recycling 
materials commercialization; 
d. Adapt the municipal PEV network to buy recyclable materials from independent catadores. 
 
 
References 
LIMA, M. I. B. de. Cooperativas de reciclagem de Santo André: conquistas e dificuldades. 
Monografia. UFABC. Santo André, 2012. 
CORNIERI, M. G. Programa Municipal de Coleta Seletiva de Resíduos Sólidos Urbanos em 
Santo André-SP: um estudo a partir do ciclo da política (Policy Cicle). Dissertação de mestrado 
apresentado junto ao Programa Ciência Ambiental da Universidade de São Paulo. 170 fl. São Paulo, 
2011. 
IBGEb. Pesquisa Nacional de Saneamento Básico – PNSB, 2010. 
CEMPRE. Pesquisa Ciclosoft. Compromisso empresarial para a reciclagem. São Paulo, 2010. 
SEMASA. Caracterização gravimétrica dos resíduos sólidos urbanos domiciliares do 
município de Santo André. Semasa/ DRS. Santo André, 2008. 
Figure 04. Gravimetric composition of recycling urban solid waste in Santo André 
 
8 
BRASIL. Sistema Nacional de Informações sobre Saneamento/ SNIS. Ministério das Cidades: 
Secretaria Nacional de Saneamento. Brasília, 2008. 
LIMPURB. Caracterização gravimétrica e físico-química dos resíduos sólidos domiciliares do 
município de São Paulo. PMSP/ Limpurb. São Paulo, 2003. 
LIMPURB. Departamento de Limpeza Urbana de São Paulo: Relatório de gestão jul/2001-
jun/2002. PMSP/Limpurb. São Paulo, 2002. 
TIVERON, Valéria P. M. Gestão de resíduos sólidos no município de São Paulo no período 
1989 a 2000 – atores em processo e conflito. Dissertação de mestrado. Faculdade de Saúde 
Pública da USP. São Paulo, 2001. 
LIMA, G. L. e TAMAI, M. T. Gestão diferenciada de resíduos sólidos inertes: a experiência de 
Santo André/ SP. In: Anais do II Simpósio Internacional de Qualidade Ambiental. Associação 
Brasileira de Engenharia Ambiental. ABES. Porto Alegre, 1998. 
PMSA. Santo André Obras Públicas: Limpeza Urbana. PMSA: Secretaria de Obras e Serviços 
Urbanos. Santo André, 1992.

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