In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a new model of selective collection has given informal catadores (recyclers) responsibility for collecting door-to-door — and the trucks to do the job.
On September 16, the Municipal Cleaning Agency of Belo Horizonte transferred its door to door collection of recyclables to six cooperatives. Previously, the city had drop-off containers in public places, where residents left their recyclables to be picked up by city trucks, then taken to catadores working at the coop centres. Only one neighbourhood had a system of door-to-door collection involving a cooperative (Coopesol Leste).
In addition to signing contracts with the workers cooperatives to provide the collection service, the Mayor provided six trucks, one for each.
Although Belo Horizonte has been a pioneer of including informal recyclers through social accords and comprehensive policies designed to integrate them, catadores have long demanded the right to be the actual collectors, as this allows a direct relationship with residents and increased control in the recycling scheme. The workers coops and their supporting NGOs, who come together in a social and governmental participatory space called the Waste & Citizenship Forum, fought long and hard to gain this outcome.
“This is a victory for organized waste pickers,” said WIEGO Waste Specialist Sonia Dias, herself a Belo Horizonte resident. “And it is a testimony to the importance of NGOs and coops convened at the Municipal Waste & Citizenship Forum, and to the dedicated public officers who fought within the cleaning agency for this to happen.”