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.