Valor Econômico by Marli Lima Iacomini - 07/24/2023

By Writing Team
Posted in July 24, 2023

Income of waste pickers increases with guidance to cooperatives, expected to grow with reverse logistics programs.

By Marli Lima Iacomini, For Valor — Curitiba

Recycling credit programs or reverse logistics, which prove the proper destination of packaging through traceability and invoices, have been growing in the country. “Demand exceeds supply,” says Maíra Pereira, CEO of Ambipar ViraSer, a reverse logistics program that proved the recycling of 33,000 tons in 2022. The expectation is to triple that number this year and reach 200,000 tons in 2026.

According to Carlos Silva Filho, president of ISWA (International Solid Waste Association), credits, whose model he considers particularly important in countries without a solid recycling structure, are working in Brazil, although he sees them as an initial step, given that reverse logistics has been mandatory in the country since 2010. “From 2020 onwards, this credit market has been structured, but it won’t be enough,” he says, adding that compliance with the law that established the National Solid Waste Policy will require strong actions from environmental agencies, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and audit courts.

The recycling rate in Brazil does not reach 3% of the 81.8 million tons of waste generated in the country, according to the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies (Abrelpe). The goal is to achieve 20% by 2040. It is estimated that there are still 2,300 open-air landfills in the country.

The growth of recycling and credits is expected to lead to the professionalization of waste sorting, resulting in increased income for workers. According to Pereira, after the professionalization of 110 cooperatives by ViraSer, the average monthly income of 2,000 waste pickers increased from R$ 700 to around R$ 2,500. “In addition to putting an end to open-air landfills, it is necessary to humanize this chain, generate income, and foster social development. The work needs to be done in a planned manner, with a strategic plan involving the government and private sector.”

One of the cooperatives supported by ViraSer is the Cooperative of Recyclable Collectors Together We Are Strong, from Santa Bárbara D’Oeste (SP), which aims to promote social inclusion, especially for vulnerable women. Director Antonio Carlos Vianna de Barros explains that the cooperative obtained a plot of land from the municipality and sought a partnership for the construction of the facility, but due to a lack of technical guidance and logistics, part of the collected material was lost.

After receiving training, they changed the productive layout and organization of the material, and started taking care of the team’s safety. Today, a monthly subsidy from the municipality covers the costs. The money paid by the industry for the collected material becomes income for the cooperative members, currently amounting to R$ 2,000. “When a mother comes here, she doesn’t come alone; she has a family,” says Elizabete Maria de Lima Matos, the president of the entity.