PANORAMA of Solid Waste Management in Brazil and RIO AMBIENTE event

I was just attended an excellent event organized in Rio de Janeiro, within the framework of RIO AMBIENTE 2010. It was a two days international seminar on waste management technologies and systems, organized by ABRELPE, the Brazilian ISWA National member.

The event was organized on a high professional level and I have to say that it was one of the very few events, at least for me, in which all speakers made substantial contributions. Needless to mention that ABRELPE and Rio stakeholders involved provided a very warm and comfortable hospitality, as it is the Brazilian mentality and habit which created familiarity between the most different type of people.

As for the event, I was surprised by the deep and intense discussions made for the future of waste management in Brazil.

I think the highlight of the event was the presentation of the 2009 edition of PANORAMA of Solid Waste in Brazil, made by Carlos Silva Filho, executive director of ABRELPE and very good friend of mine. This is an excellent publication, made every year by ABRELPE, which presents more or less all the important data and evolution in waste management on a national and regional level.

It is not only the useful statistics and the very careful design that make PANORAMA very easily utilized. It is not just the professional level of the printing and editing work. The most important aspect I think is that reading such a publication (even the English summary) you have a very good idea of what is happening in Brazil, what are the main problems and of course which may be potential solutions.

As Carlos wrote in the preface of it “…themes related to solid waste gain an increasingly larger importance in the society (so) the annual update and deepening of data, which give origin to the industry panorama, becomes an indispensable instrument for the definition of strategies addressing the industry development”.

But except the impressive PANORAMA, all major issues discussed and sometimes with a lot of details. Here are just some of them:

The new national plan for waste management with emphasis to Reverse Logistics
The need for a national network of sanitary landfills
The necessity of treatment facilities for big cities with emphasis to thermal treatment plants
The international experiences regarding waste treatment and possible models that can be adapted in Brazilian conditions
The emerging regulation changes in order to modernize recycling activities and state control
The potential and the barriers for Public – Private Partnerships
The very important and characteristic role of scavengers and favelas in Rio de Janeiro waste management.

When the event finished I really felt that waste management in Brazil and especially in Rio de Janeiro is in front of a great challenge.

As the country rapidly increases its Gross Domestic Product, with rates that for 2009 were around 7%, the waste production is really booming, as several speakers confirmed. There is a very clear danger that dumpsites will be rapidly expanded as well and several environmental and health problems might be tremendous.

Brazilian market has more or less all the components required to deliver solutions for the emerging waste disposal crisis. Brazilian government seems to understand the problem but probably is not giving yet the importance required.

The upcoming Olympic Games 2016 in Rio create a window of opportunity for delivering waste management infrastructure. In Brazil, as I have the opportunity to see with my own eyes, there are a lot of human resources (and more are already prepared) and some institutions that can provide a substantial improvement of waste management in a relevant short – time. It is their time now to grasp this opportunity and create new and more efficient and safe waste management. And I feel that ABRELPE is really a key-partner of this effort.

I hope they will succeed - it is worth for this beautiful country and its warm people.

Congratulations to ABRELPE for the event but much more for the unique PANORAMA – I wish other ISWA national members to get the idea and implement it.

Carlos and Alberto, special thanks for all your hospitality and warmness, we really felt almost like home, as every time we visit Brazil. I hope that I will provide at least a similar hospitality when you come to Greece and I am more than grateful for giving me the opportunity to interact in so well prepared and interesting events.


A real special web-site !

For those ones who would like to have a very clear and regularly updated picture of what’s happening in waste management in Brazil, there is one and only solution. The excellent web-site:


During my recent visit to Rio I had the luck to meet the person who is behind this thesaurus of information and I was surprised by his efforts and hard work to sustain something that it is almost unbelievable to imagine that is elaborated by just one person, even if this person is a special one.

The site is available in Portuguese, Spanish and English language and it contains from new tenders in Brazil up to handbooks, best practices for several waste management activities, a lot of videos, legislation issues etc.

And most importantly, it is regularly updated on a weekly basis, at least.
Just subscribe with your e-mail and you will receive a weekly newsletter with all the updates.

This is one of the most impressive portals I have seen for waste management and it becomes much more impressive when you think that just one person is really delivering this content.

My Congratulations to Jose Henrique Penido, this is a real masterpiece. But it is also a serious indication that in Brazil there are very capable scientists and practitioners that can undertake the effort to upgrade waste management conditions and drove the country out of the dumpsites.

http://www.resol.com.br a site worth to visit!


A great event in Netherlands

Last week I was in Leeuwarden, Netherlands for the ISWA Beacon Conference on Waste Prevention, organized by NVRD, the Dutch National member of ISWA.

I had the honor and the pleasure to chair the first day of the conference and to watch carefully the second one. So allow me to say, that this was one of the most interesting conferences I have ever participated.

For a so difficult as well as complex issue as waste prevention is, there was a remarkable effective combination of theory and practice, in a way that I consider should be emblematic for ISWA’s events.

Very careful selection of high quality speakers, topics that cover the whole spectrum of waste prevention, intensive interaction between participants - speakers and a fruitful networking were just some of the advantages.

Beside them, a very warm hospitality and well organized events allowed participants to spend some happy time between the intensive conference sessions.

As for the content, the issues of behavioral science were well balanced with the changes required on the industrial level in order to achieve waste prevention in practice. Psychology, sociology and communication science should be combined with an industrial revolution (eco-design) in order to close the cycle of a lot of materials and achieve minimum environmental impacts from production and consumption of products.

I have to write my special thanks to all NVRD people for their hard efforts and the successful event. NVRD is really an organization that is going up, getting more mature as well as more effective, as I had the opportunity to understand with my eyes. Needless to say that it was a great honor for me to be one of the speakers in its annual congress.

Maarten, Eric my congratulations are a least recognition for your efforts. Participants’ comments and compliments are more than enough to encourage you, NVRD and ISWA to go on with such events.

keep walking guys, we need more such initiatives


Annual Waste Report for Italy

This a contribution by my good friend David Newman - thanks a lot David this is realy interesting

Last week the government institute for the environment in Italy, called ISPRA, published its annual Waste Report, using data from 2008.

There are some really interesting developments I wanted to share with your readers.

Firstly, for the first time in living memory, the amount of total MSW produced has decreased. Only a small total decline, some 0,2%, but in per capita terms a significant 2%. This is actually the third year that per capita waste production declines, while being the first year that this reduction has had an impact on the overall national figures.

The decline is evidently due to a reduction in consumption, that's a no-brainer. But we should take into account the last three years' per capita decline and part of the reason for this may lie in the prevention and reduction policies being enacted in some regions.

Secondly, while the amount of waste produced declines, the amount collected separately for material recovery increases again; an overall level of 30,6% of all Italian MSW in now collected separately and sent to reovery. This is indeed a substantial result; regions in northern Italy have attained levels over 50%, including densely populated industral regions like Lombardy, Piemonte, Veneto. Once again the south of Italy shows how under-developed it is, with overall recovery levels of 15% circa. In between sit the central regions like Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo.
Note the great strides ahead made by the Region of Sardegna where overall recycling levels have achieved nearly 40%.

Thirdly, where the recovery levels are highest is where the regions have enacted policies of separate collection of organic household waste. The 2008 figures show an increase in organic waste collection on 2007 of over 14%, to circa 3.340.000 tons. Organic waste now accounts for 34% of all the recycled waste collected, the largest single fraction, and with paper and cardboard, over 60% of all recovered waste.

This means that Italy is rapidly heading towards the goals of the Landfill Directive in terms of reducing organic waste to landfill.

Indeed the other good news in that the number of landfills has declined again, while the number of composting plants increased to 229.

Landfills still account for 44% of all our MSW disposal (about 32.000.000 tons) though in continuous decline; composting separate waste 7%; MBT 22% (a small reduction on 2007) and incineration still at 11%. The rest is recycled.

The report contains a load of informaion regarding the economics of the waste industry in Italy, as well as a comparison with EU countries.

You can obtain this very detailed and well presented report in Italian from the website www.atiaiswa.it in the next few days or from the ISPRA website now www.isprambiente.it