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Tuesday, 26 June 2012 00:00

David Newman's outlook on Brazil's waste management issues

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AddThis Social Bookmark Button just two months he will be ISWA's next President. David Newman has to demonstrate a rich and multidimensional biography, supporting his important experiences in waste and environmental field. Apart from being ISWA’s Vice President he is currently General Secretary of Assobioplastiche, and Managing Director at Italian Composters Consortium-CIC.

In the past he has served in several positions, including being a Managing Director at ATIA-ISWA ITALIA, Consultant, and Managing Director at Greenpeace Italy. His passion is “to build relationships, develop collaborative associations and partnerships that collectively make a real difference”.

In this article, David Newman provides readers with his views on waste management in Brazil and the prospects of the country after the new, ambitious waste law that was passed in 2010. His opinion was formed after extensive discussions with operators and government officials in Rio, in the framework of Rio+20 conference.

Brazilian waste Law 2012

“The principal objectives of the Law are to eliminate open dumps and send to landfill only treated waste by 2014. The aim of the Law is to extend separate collection across the country. Regular collection is widely spread.

These are unachievable targets within that timeframe, but better to have ambitious targets than weak open-ended objectives which do not create the tension needed.

Consider that Brazil recycles less than 7% of its MSW, sending the rest to controlled landfills in the major cities, and open dumps elsewhere. The most updated data, from Abrelpe's Panorama 2011, shows that 89% of the MSW is collected. Open dumps abound, blighting the landscape and polluting the environment in a classic scenario of Dante's Hell.

Funding opportunities

In the excellent sessions ISWA participated in, organised by IPLA and above all Abrelpe, I spoke mostly of the need to put money into the system. Without financing, the MSW collection services are not going to progress. But who will pay?

Firstly, the extension of EPRs to the packaging industry is an intelligent step, which of course the packaging industry is campaigning against. These funds will bring resources to municipalities to organise separate collection of certain streams like paper. On the other hand, tin cans and plastic bottles are already collected by the informal sector with very high recovery rates.

Brazil already has EPR systems for used tyres, used oil and pesticide containers from farmers. They work well, though at a cost, proving it can be done even in a country so huge. The oil industry programme recovers only 45% of used oils at an investment cost of US$ 175 million, repaid by the oil recovered.

Secondly, landfill taxes, if introduced (and they are discussing this), will finance collection and composting of organics which compose 60% of Brazil's MSW. Composting this very wet waste will make enormous contributions to reducing Brazil's GHG emissions.

Landfill costs are still very low by European standards, US$19/ ton, in the new, state of the art Rio landfill, double than the ones in Sao Paolo. A landfill tax will surely be a stimulus to recycling as we have seen in Europe, providing financial resources to municipalities.

Thirdly, international aid and carbon market methods can provide funding. Only 0.25% of overseas development aid goes to waste industry projects and even CDM investments are of limited value.

The role of ISWA and Abrelpe

Here the work of ISWA and Abrelpe, in campaigning for financing of collection and recycling through the donor streams, led by the National Investment Bank of Brazil, will be crucial. We met the officials of the Bank and their problem, when examining waste projects, is "where's the pay back? Who will pay?" Hence the importance of the two options cited above.

And this question of funding developing countries' waste infrastructure is the key campaign that ISWA should take on over the next few years. Awareness is growing, thanks to our international outreach, and the World Bank's recent report that declared waste an emergency comparable to climate change.

We have to build on this to influence the international decision- making processes putting forward the case of how good waste management leads to so many sustainable benefits.

Thanks again to Carlos  Silva Filho for his excellent hospitality and efficient organisation. “

D-Waste would like to thank David Newman for the time that he dedicated for D-Waste news column, providing an insight to Brazilian waste situation and opportunities for the country.

Read 7627 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 11:35
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