Big populations generate a lot of waste. Modern big societies generate a huge amount of waste which, in certain sectors, especially recycling, is valuable.
This has led to the appearance of the independent trash picker (or catadores de lixo – trash scavengers – as they are called in Brazil) and now Belo Horizonte is inaugurating the first recycling plant to be run jointly by no less than eight independent garbage collector associations.
“The plant will mean an end to the exploitation of the trash pickers by unscrupulous middlemen. It will mean an immediate increase in income of around 30%, benefiting some 580 trash pickers and their families,” explains Luis Henrique da Silva of the Asmare (Associação dos Catadores de Papel, Papelão e Matérias Recicláveis – Association of Paper, Cardboard and Recyclable Material).
Silva revealed that the association had to work hard to raise the US$ 1.9 million (4.5 million reais) needed to build the plant, getting assistance from the Banco do Brasil Foundation, BrazilPrev and Petrobras.
“This is a victory for the little guy. The trash picker will be the one who keeps the profits,” says sister Maria Cristina Bove, of the Catholic Street Pastoral aid group.