[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.
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.