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Numbers from the Compromisso Empresarial para Reciclagem (The Empresarial Commitment to Recycling - Cempre), a non-profit organization maintained by a group of large Brazilian companies , show that our country is progressing in recycling, achieving satisfactory rates in some segments , but falling short in others: 96.2 % of the national production of aluminum cans; 47 % of PET resin; 45 % of glass packaging; 29 % of steel cans; and 23 % of 46,000 tons of long life post-consumer packaging; and 20% of plastics.

In these items, we are ahead of many nations, such as in PET bottles, or reasonably inserted in global averages. However, there is a particularly worrying aspect: We recycle only 3% of urban organic solid waste. Evolution in this specific item is important for the improvement of the environment, economic gains in production and also for the social aspect, contemplating in this way, the three strands of the most contemporary concept of sustainability.

It is worth remembering that the National Solid Waste Policy (PNRS) has defined the concept of "waste" as follows: It can only be characterized as those materials which, after having exhausted all possibilities of treatment and recovery by available and economically feasible technological processes, present no other possibility other than environmentally appropriate disposal. The organic fraction of household waste is between 48% and 55% of total household waste generated. For an annual production of approximately 64 million tons of waste, we have then more than 30 million tons of organic waste that is not technically waste and, therefore, will go in natura to landfills and dumpsites in the country.

We must solve it by achieving targets by 2030, which seems long enough for that. It is not! Big cities or small or medium sized consortiums have to begin deployment right now of their Management Plans , or there will be the threat hovering of validation of the maxim that we are not accustomed to achieving our goals, or in other words, we assume public responsibilities.

The work of cooperatives is important but is not sufficient to meet the enormous demand. In 2012, we recorded an increase of 1.3 % in per capita generation of waste. In the same period, according to the IBGE, the number of residents increased by only one percent. Therefore, it is concluded that social inclusion over the past decade and higher incomes are causing the increase in consumption (and therefore waste generation) which is above population growth. Great! However, we need to effectively meet this environmental demand.

For this, the great leap forward is the Municipal Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, whose implementation however, has been delayed in at least half of the 5,564 Brazilian municipalities. Moreover, the failure of the timeline for the implementation of the plan has definitely compromised the eradication of landfills across the country by 2014, as originally envisaged in the National Policy on the subject (Law No. 12.305). What will be done about this?

With the delay of the program, we're not only postponing a process able to greatly improve the environment but we are also slowing the growth of recycling. Instead of a virtuous circle of solid waste collection, selectivity, and appropriate referral to modern landfills and large scale recycling, we are perpetuating the vicious cycle of lethargy.


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