A Successful Pilot Project of Decentralized Household Waste Management in Brazil

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Present municipalwaste management paradigms in Brazil do not allowfor flexible approaches to solving an extremely dynamic problem. This paper discusses the basic flaws in present thinking models of residents and municipal administrators. Fundamental arguments presented on municipal solid waste relate to nomenclature, destinations, definitions, logistics, social dynamics, social assistance programs, education and employment philosophies. In each case, the consequences of the stalemate are explained in terms of the unsustainable situation of constantly growing landfills. In sequence, a proactive thinking model is presented and explained that has the potential of drastically reducing landfill size. It is called Municipal Transit Material Processing. The model has been tested successfully in small communities and is now available for scale-up. The landfill diversion achieved stands at 62% of household waste in comparison with 15% theoretically possible in Brazil with selective collection models. Although of necesity the arguments apply directly to Brazil, the basic ideas behind the reasoning may be extrapolated to other Southern countries. The following simple example will illustrate to the reader the type of paradigm inversion the paper proposes to convey. The classical political slogan in Brazil is “get children out of garbage dumps”. The inversion proposed and explained is “do away with garbage dumps”.

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