Half a Million Brazilians Survive Picking Up Trash

Gatherers of recyclable materials in Minas Gerais,
Brazil will run a plastic-processing plant in the state capital, Belo
Horizonte. The material they collect will be treated and sold to processing
industries in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio Grande do Sul.
Since the collectors will sell their product directly, their profits will
increase.

Beginning today and running through Sunday, September 5, gatherers of
recyclable materials from various Brazilian states and other countries are
assembled in Belo Horizonte, at the 3rd edition of the Trash and Citizenship
Festival.


This year they are discussing technological options for the treatment of
solid wastes and environmental licenses. The Minister of Social Development and
Hunger Alleviation, Patrus Ananias, took part in the opening ceremony.


The plant, which will cost US$ 658 thousand (1.93 million reais),
represents an unprecedented project in Brazil. For José Aparecido Gonçalves,
Coordinator of the Asmare, an association of collectors of paper, cardboard, and
recyclable materials, “what we are launching is the result of a history of
struggle and organization.”

Brazil produces 140 thousand tons of trash
daily, and approximately 500 thousand people derive their sustenance from
gathering materials that can be recycled.


An expert at the Consumer Defense Association (Associação Brasileira de
Defesa do Consumidor), Marcelo Dias da Cunha, speaking on the Radio Nacional AM
“Daily Life” (Cotidiano) program, declared that it is important to
make Brazilians aware of the need to produce less trash.


“This is something that has to begin in the supermarket when people buy
things. It is exactly when people buy things that they begin creating waste,”
said Cunha.

He went on to explain that packaging is one of the big
villains in the tidal wave of garbage that characterizes modern life. Packaging
should follow the three-R rule: reduction, reusage and recycling, he said.


“We need to look for goods with packaging that can be reused, is not too big
and can be recycled.” People can take carts to the supermarkets and reduce the
amount of plastic bags they need, separate types of garbage and use leftover
packaging in their homes, says Cunha.

Agência Brasil

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