Solid Waste Management and Informality

Integration of Informal Sectors into Solid Waste Management

Expert Mission in February 2018 to Jundaí, Brazil

Connective Cities organized the expert assignment to Jundiaí, Brasil, during which three experts of solid waste management from Germany exchanged ideas with the Brazilian city Jundiaí (Federal State of Sao Paulo) on the question of how to optimize waste separation and better integrate the informal sector into the formal waste management system. The expert assignment was identified and planned a result of the Connective Cities Dialogue Event on Circular Waste Management and Climate Protection in November 2017 in Hamburg. During the event, the director of municipal waste management and other experts had developed the project draft, which should be further concretized through the expert assignment. The Technical University Braunschweig supported the coordination of the assignment.  

From February 26th to 28th, two experts from the municipal waste company Hamburg (Stadtreinigung Hamburg) and one expert from the District of Kassel visited different public institutions in Jundiaí, such as the town hall, a public school, transfer stations and collection points. They met the mayor and representatives of the public administration, of the informal sector (“catadores”), private waste companies, cooperatives and students.

On the first day of the mission, they visited different stations of the local waste management system (transfer station, collection points, compost project) and a school project. The second day was dedicated to a workshop for a common analysis of the current situation with representatives of the city and of the private sector. The expert assignment concluded with an open workshop, where the German experts presented some of the solutions for a sustainable waste management applied in Hamburg and Kassel and entered into an active dialog with the public.  

During the 2,5-day mission, two main challenges have been identified: First, the transfer of the responsibility to collect, salvage and dispose the waste to private companies. Although these manage to keep the city clean, their results in waste separation and recovery of the recyclable fraction is still insufficient. Most of the waste collected is disposed in an untreated form on open dumpsites. This does not only generate climate-damaging emissions, but makes a recovery of resources from the waste a difficult task, too. Second, the integration of the informal sector, whose working conditions and social security situation are deficient. The national waste bill, adopted in 2010, is seen as a positive incentive to improve their situation in Jundiaí.

As a result of the assignment, a number of concrete recommendations have been developed: a proactive public communication strategy, a system for registration and authorization of the waste collectors (“catadores”), the definition of target values for binding recycling quota for private waste companies and the implementation of a simple compost works as a pilot project.  

All in all, the expert assignment showed that the added value resides not only in the expertise and experience of the experts in waste management, but their external, independent perspective, too. This allowed discovering potentials for improving the division of costs and tasks between the municipality and the private waste companies. The openness and commitment by the public administration of Jundiaí and their support for organizing the assignment including the dialogue with civil society, private sector and the informal sector were crucial to the success of the assignment. Their commitment will be decisive for the development and implementation of the project idea, which Connective Cities, along with the involved stakeholders, will further support.