The Brazilian National Policy on Solid Waste is a political action for municipalities to pay attention in the mismanagement of household solid waste (HSW) and integration of waste picker (WP) cooperatives since 2010. Peru and Columbia, for example, enacted similar policies based on Brazilian experiences in 2014 and 2015. Albeit informal picking is strongly predominant in Lima and Bogota, HSW is continuously disposed of in open-dumping and landfills in these countries, including several Brazilian municipalites after ten years of the enacted legislation.
Cultural and social dimensions exist and create a vague understanding of a similar socio-technical challenge that happens between cities dominated by WPs, who are informally (or formally) part of HSW management. Such critical constraints require further methodological approaches that underpin the technical field of HSW research, and the way integration of WPs has become a social, political, and cultural phenomenon. This study brings transparency to such complex situations systematically. First, a material flow analysis (MFA) was built up observing Belo Horizonte's city throughout 15 years (2003-2018). ... mehrSecondly, historical analogies based on legislations, written memories, scientific papers complement the understanding of the social and cultural interactions of recycling cooperatives and all agents involved. Belo Horizonte was the Brazilian bottom-up city that recognized waste pickers as part of the conventional HSW system politically in the 90s.
The MFA results show that HSW generation increased by 50.3% compared to the base year, and the maximum total recyclables collected was 418 kt/a ± 2%, a growth of 5% annually. Eight WP cooperatives received a total average of recyclables 8.5 kt/a ± 2% (σ of 1.6 kt). Aluminum cans, polyethylene bottles, and cardboard are the single commodities that reached closed-loop recycling due to their economic value and market regulations. Plastic pellets are destined for steel industries.
The historical analogies justify distinct characteristics as a reflection of how the civilization of Belo Horizonte was structured. The political recognition was primordial to confirm that influential communities and citizens under an unemployment crisis were right regarding their thoughts, and secondly, to motivate follow up actions in HSWM. For about four decades, the cultural competence of ASMARE cooperative (induced by NGO and the Street Pastoral Care) seeks the broad commitment to join more members focused on social problems of the city through rescuing citizens under extreme poverty conditions. The temporality of change gave this competence the shape to form the CataUnidos union and the plastic pellets' social-entrepreneurship. The right to come to ASMARE and go in freedom helped seven self-organized cooperatives to seek economic development to adapt to the modern urban system in Belo Horizonte. The professionalization for selective collection, concentrated in small numbers of WP cooperatives, formed RedeSol. A multi-functioning sorting system is becoming a robust system to provide public services through the economic competence of RedeSol. Both union systems uniquely identified moral rules (e.g., solidarity, reciprocity, and respect) to improve understanding and trustworthiness to keep both competences stable in Belo Horizonte. Such governance issues could be similar, but can also differ in Latin American cities.