New work by SIMBIO Brazil team addresses the impact of the pandemic on solid waste management and waste pickers in the country

The article “A Perspective of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Plastic Waste Management and Cooperatives of Waste Pickers in Brazil”, recently published in the journal “Circular Economy and Sustainability”, presents an analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Cooperatives of Recyclable Material Waste Pickers and the challenges of plastic recycling during this period in Brazil.

Considering that in 2020 Brazil became the global epicenter of Covid-19, this scenario directly affected the habits of the population. One of them was the increase in the consumption of plastics due to its importance in packaging and in applications as protective material. At the same time, the country also faces the worsening of social problems related to waste management, especially due to the important role played by waste pickers in this chain.

“The waste pickers are professionals who need visibility and social protection not only to face the current health crisis, but also to guarantee their income and survival”, points out Lais Roncalho, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos (DQ – UFSCar), member of the Center for the Development of Functional Materials (CDMF) and first author of the article.

For the elaboration of the work, the researcher says that data collection was carried out based on the literature in order to organize the history of waste management in Brazil, as well as the current challenges of the health crisis. Data from CEMPRE (Business Commission on Recycling), ABRELPE (Brazilian Association of Special Waste and Public Cleaning Companies) and other organizations were also used to build a critical analysis of the topic.

“In this study, we point out the lack of data on waste management in the country and highlight the importance of the social inclusion of waste pickers for an effective Circular Economy. After the pandemic and the change in scenario that has been taking place, we concluded that we need adequate planning and improvements in waste management, recycling programs and political intervention to guide collective responsibility and, thus, guarantee the social rights of waste pickers”, concludes Lais Roncalho. The article also has the contribution of researchers Sandra A. Cruz, professor at the DQ – UFSCar and also linked to the CDMF, and Rafaela F. Gutierrez, a reseacher at the University of Toronto.

Fig. Scheme that can contribute to the Circular Economy in Brazil.

To access the full article, click HERE. And the original post (in portuguese) HERE.

Research by the Brazilian SIMBIO team presents a legislative review and discusses the challenges of laws in the context of plastics and bioplastics in Brazil

Lais Roncalho, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos (DQ – UFSCar), member of the Center for the Development of Functional Materials (CDMF) and the SIMBIO group, is the first author of the article “Challenges in the context of single-use plastics and bioplastics in Brazil: A legislative review” recently published in the scientific journal Waste Management & Research.

With the proposal to carry out a legislative review regarding the Brazilian scenario facing the challenges of laws in the context of plastics and bioplastics, one of the motivations for writing the article, as Roncalho says, was the fact that Brazil does not have structured data in this context, as well as the difficulty of accessing the laws.

“We noticed a big gap in the literature regarding this type of discussion and that is why we carried out this in-depth review work, where we present a legislative review and discuss the difficulty of implementing policies related to encouraging the bioplastics market. In this sense, the state and municipal laws that prohibit single-use plastics in Brazil are also presented, laws that encourage the replacement of these plastics with biodegradable ones”, she explained.

On the other hand, despite laws and decrees passed that prohibit straws and other disposables by states and municipalities in Brazil and advances in replacing these materials with others of biodegradable origin, the country still faces major challenges in terms of waste management.

“Our research concluded that the most accurate solution for the future impact of bioplastics in Brazil is based on the need for improvements in the proper management of waste, as well as in the recycling and composting of these materials, in accordance with the guidelines imposed by Organs competent bodies. This includes, for example, the development of government policies that encourage the Circular Economy”, informed Roncalho.

The methodology applied by the authors for data collection was based on databases and digital platforms such as the Legislation Portal, the LegisWeb platform, for State Laws, and the Municipal Laws system. In these channels, access was obtained to all the legislative material produced in the history of Brazil, where data were collected and analyzed in detail. Throughout the article, the history of environmental legislation in the country was presented in a descriptive way, evaluating the main guidelines and actions contained in the advance of public policies to ban single-use plastic, aiming at reducing environmental damage.

Sandra A. Cruz, professor of the DQ – UFSCar and CDMF member, and Rafaela F. Gutierrez, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, are also authors of the published work. The research in question has been carried out in partnership with groups from Brazil, Canada, Poland and the United Kingdom, which are jointly developing the project “New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research: Social Innovation Management for BIOPlastics (SIMBIO)”, financed by FAPESP, through of the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) modality.

The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.

The CDMF, headquartered at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), is one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (Cepids) supported by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (Fapesp), and also receives investment from the National Council Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), from the National Institute of Science and Technology of Materials in Nanotechnology (INCTMN). The original interview (in Portuguese) can be accessed HERE or HERE.