Brazil still loses a large amount of money for not properly recycling waste from its cities, of which only 14% have selective waste collection programs. In this article, we will give an overview of the status of waste recycling in Brazil.
Brazil produces 250 thousand tons of waste everyday, of which a little more than 98.2% is collected. The Southeast region has the most city coverage, and 82.6% of these cities also have selective waste collection programs. It is estimated that the country loses, every year, around BRL 8 billion for not efficiently collecting and recycling its solid waste.
Most of the collected waste is still sent to open dumps, which represents a risk to the environment and public health. Although, since December 2014, Brazilian cities have to obey the PNRS, or The National Solid Waste Policy, that states the extinction of open dumps and that solid waste must be recycled and what is non recyclable, which represents 10%, must be sent to landfills. One big limitation for the complete success of this policy is the lack of infrastructure in the cities, since it demands high investment which most of them cannot afford. Selective waste collection costs 4.5 more than regular collections, nearly USD 212 per ton.
Only 3% of solid waste in Brazil is recycled. Cooperatives represent 74% in collecting recyclables, and have become important since the cities are working with them to increase their recycling projects, which helps take many of these workers out of professional informality. Other important players are the PEVs, or Voluntary Delivery Posts, where citizens take their recyclable waste themselves. There are almost 4 thousand of them alone in the city of São Paulo. It is estimated that revenue from the recycling market is around BRL 12 billion each year.
Most recycled materials in Brazil
More than 50% percent of Brazilian solid waste is organic, due to citizens consuming habits. Although the presence of other materials is increasing, dry waste paper and cardboard represents 39% of the garbage produced every day. Some materials have specific directives for dumping like tires, electronics, chemical products and medicines, of which only tires and electronics have recycling directions, but no specific regulations for it.
The most recycled materials in Brazil are presented below.
Total Amount Recycled
Paper and Cardboard
The least recycled materials are carton packages, at a rate of 26.6%, due to the difficulty of separating the materials that they are composed of. Aluminum cans are the most recycled due to the high value of the material in the market. The high rates of recycling in Brazil are a reflection of the poverty levels and unemployment, since collecting these materials represent a good income for many lower class families.
Policies and investments in recycling market
In order to help recycling programs, many companies already invest in taking back some materials from products they produce or sell. Supermarkets have the largest programs and offers many possibilities to its consumers. Since citizens are becoming more conscious of the importance of the selective waste collection, companies in many sectors are chasing after the opportunity to go green and gain trust among its customers.
There are a few taxes that can apply to solid waste recycling, depending on specific cases. The waste is exempt from ICMS, if it is not transported to another state. The IPI is applied if the waste goes through any pre-industrial process. Finally, the ISS is applied on any activities that involve registered tax receipt.
The PNRS already admits the concession of tax, financial or credit incentive to industries or entities dedicated to reusing and recycling solid waste. A law project that promotes the exemption of citizens and companies of 4% to 6% on the income tax according to the amount of donation of recyclable waste, is to be discussed in the Brazilian Senate.