Monday, 17 October 2016

Shining the Spotlight on Rio’s Waste Heroes

Another Olympics may be over, but the headlines aren’t completely done with yet. So many people from around the world descended on Rio for just two weeks,  and naturally municipal planners expected a large influx of recyclable materials to be collected and sorted through.

Image source: Luiz Galerani/The Guardian

This is where the recycling heroes of Rio 2016 took centre stage, as revealed by an interesting article from The Guardian.

Rio, and Brazil in general, have yet to fully unify their waste management programmes, and this is why co-operatives set up by the waste pickers themselves has proven to be a fantastic strategy; not only helping Rio to reduce their carbon footprint, but also allowing workers to pick up a better wage as a mass collection of recyclable materials yields better prices per weight.

The partnership involved Rio 2016 and Coca-Cola, as well as the local Rio state government and the federal government of Brazil, who have together invested R$3m (£720,000) into the initiative to help get it off the ground.

Haroldo Mendonça, the solidarity economy coordinator from the labour ministry, said he wanted to use the accomplishments of this enterprise to show “an example to other countries to show how to combine environmental care with economic empowerment.”

Such is the success of this movement that these co-operatives managed to fend off tenders from private firms to secure the contract for the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the model is set to be repeated across many of Rio’s celebrated events, such as the Carnival and events held at the famous Copacabana beach.

EMERGE Recycling employs some of Manchester’s ‘local heroes’: social enterprise workers who engage the wider community collecting waste for reuse and recycling across the city-region. Accordingly, we send our best wishes and congratulations to all the Olympians for the closing ceremony taking place here in Manchester later today. EMERGE is certainly doing our bit locally to support resource-efficiency and the circular economy.

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