Waste Disposal in Brazil pt. 2

[Image credit: Style Hi Club, Visiting the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro by Dave]

In my last post, I spoke about the issue of final waste disposal in Brazil. Now I’m going to explore possible solutions.

Possible Solutions

The two most feasible solutions to the problem are instituting the Incinerator method of getting rid of waste or the Waste to Energy Plant method.

The Incinerator method processes materials in a waste incinerator and converts it to energy. It fails to entirely alleviate the landfill problem because the heat process produces ash equivalent to 30% of each ton of waste incinerated that has to be buried in a landfill.

The Waste to Energy Plan method includes three parts: a thermoelectric power plant, a selective collection recycling program, and a sorting center.

23% of Sao Paulo’s emissions are from landfill waste disposal. Thermoelectric power plants can be installed in order to neutralize up to 20% of garbage emissions and generate energy near the landfills using said emissions. This method has the potential to make up 7% of the electricity used by the city. The city could also sell the carbon neutralized as carbon credits for additional profit.

The selective collection portion of this method is a type or recycling that could begin to decrease the current waste load, while preventing further accumulation of waste. The catadores could collect and run this portion of the program to mitigate their income lost from closing the landfills. They would be paid with the resources obtained from selling recyclables.The selective collection would culminate in the waste being transported to a sorting center.

This method would produce approximately 50 TWh of possible energy supplies per year and give up to 10 million tons of carbon to sell.


The Incinerator Method is less profitable than the waste to energy plant method and would require a significant amount of foreign currency. Additionally, it does not contribute to a change in consumption patterns, creation of jobs for those affected by the dumps closing, or involve the population in waste management.

The Waste to Energy Plant Method is significantly cheaper of an investment with a greater outcome. It can bridge the gap between Brazil’s current infrastructure and moving towards being as landfill independent as possible. This method could lead to larger scale unification of Brazil’s waste management system while promoting inclusion of the favela community in sustainable solutions. It also optimizes energy conservation and creates jobs. Lastly, carbon credit sales can go towards rehabilitating and rebuilding the favelas in order to return some of the benefit directly to the communities.

This is a great example of how sustainable solutions can benefit marginalized communities as well as those in positions of privilege. What do you think of these two methods? Do you have any ideas for final waste disposal solutions? Feel free to comment your thoughts below.


1. Environmental impacts of improper solid waste management in developing countries: a case study of Rawalpindi City, The Sustainable World, accessed April 19, 2017, https://www.witpress.com/Secure/elibrary/papers/SW10/SW10035FU1.pdf
2. Environmental effects of landfills, ScienceDirect, accessed April 19, 2017, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/004896979190387T
3. The problem with landfill, environment victoria, accessed April 16, 2017, https://environmentvictoria.org.au/resource/problem-landfill/
4. Rio Favela Facts, Cat Comm, accessed April 19, 2017, http://catcomm.org/favela-facts/
5. When the world’s largest landfill closed, a city of garbage pickers collapsed, Plaid Zebra, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.theplaidzebra.com/jardim-gramacho-garbage-picker-world-largest-landfill/
6. Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Joquei landfill – in pictures, The Guardian, accessed April 18, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2016/jul/06/trash-treasure-brazil-joquei-landfill-in-pictures
7. Brazilian waste potential: Energy, environmental, social and economic benefits, ResearchGate, accessed April 15, 2017, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222410518_Brazilian_waste_potential_Energy_environmental_social_and_economic_benefits
8. Sao Paulo’s Landfills Project, Brazil, Global Infrastructure Basel, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.gib-foundation.org/projects/sao-paulos-landfills-project/
9. Municipal Solid Waste Incineration: A Decision Maker’s Guide, The World Bank, accessed April 18, 2017, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTUSWM/Resources/463617-1202332338898/incineration-dmg.pdf

5 thoughts on “Waste Disposal in Brazil pt. 2”

  1. This was very well written and it is clear that you did your research on the topic. Having read the two options it seems like the waste to energy plant method will be better for everyone involved. All of the information presented was very interesting and I’d love to read about more problems and potential solutions like this.


  2. The waste to energy plan sure seems like the best plan. From a budget point of view it would be the ones that would have the least initial cost with the highest profit margin. This means that in a few years the project would pay itself off and after that the money generated could be used to further the waste disposal or used to fund another project. From an investment standpoint that would be the route I would take.


  3. This is what a real engineer should be thinking about. so many wasted wastes that can be used to convert them somehow to energy. Also great solutions to the problem that is happening in Brazil.


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