Universidade Estadual Paulista and Acácia Cooperative have joined forces in waste management program

To support the work done by waste pickers with measures that promote environmental education and contribute to sustainability. This is one of Flores da Acácia Project’s goals, an enterprise conceived by the Institute of Chemistry (IQ) and the School of Sciences and Languages (FCL), both at the São Paulo State University (Unesp), Araraquara campus, in collaboration with Acácia Waste Pickers Cooperative. The plan is to implement a solid-waste management program in the University campuses for the proper recyclable segregation, so that it is less frequently transported to dumpsites, and therefore reducing the impacts on the environment. 

“We want to collect more recyclable materials and improve their quality, running effective orientation and sensitization campaigns to the internal IQ and FCL communities. We will discuss the responsibility of each person on waste generation and segregation, establishing protocols for the decontamination of glass and plastic containers used to store chemical reagents. Moreover, we intend to adequate the storage facilities in such a way that the materials are not damaged by the rain and easily picked up by the Cooperative vehicle,” explains Cintia Milagre, professor of the Institute of Chemistry and coordinator of the Project. 

Project intends to collect more recyclable waste and improve its quality. (Photo: Cintia Milagre)

According to Milagre, in the course of the enterprise the waste pickers will also be qualified for the purpose of developing approach, negotiation and prospecting techniques as a means to increase the profit margin for the recyclable material sales. Furthermore, the workers will be given instructions on how to refine electronic waste management as well as to identify valuable products. With the Project, the quantity of recyclable items collected by Acácia Cooperative in the Institute of Chemistry is expected to increase in at least 20%. The recyclable waste collection in the IQ and FCL will be exclusive to the Cooperative. 

The president of the Cooperative, Helena Francisco da Silva, tells that the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the amount of collected materials, which had already been expected considering the limitation of activities allowed to be done and people’s consumption. “The pandemic has affected us both emotionally and financially. Since March 2020, 43 Cooperative workers belonging to the coronavirus risk groups have been preventively put on leave. University’s monthly waste collection has been reduced by around 120 tons. This is why the collaboration project with Unesp is going to be very important not only to collect more recyclables, but also to make a profit from selling items the value is still unknown to us. It is wonderful that Unesp will empower us,” she declares. 

Due to the pandemic, Acácia Cooperative’s monthly collection has been reduced by around 120 tons. (Photo: Cintia Milagre)

As stated by the  Brazilian Association of Public Cleansing and Waste Management Companies (ABRELPE)’s 2020 overview, Brazil has generated approximately 79 million tons of urban solid waste in 2019. About 40,5% of it had an inadequate disposal, being sent to landfills and dumpsites, which have their average life expectancy reduced because of the large amount of recyclables found there. 

“It is a very important project. It seeks to change the attitude of professors, public sector workers and students, especially those in the public administration course, since this enterprise calls for reflection on the necessity of promoting public policies that lessen the environmental and social impacts caused by improper refuse disposal. Another relevant aspect of the Project is enabling interaction between the public university and society in order to acknowledge and value the activities of the waste pickers, who are often marginalized,” states Patrícia Borba Marchetto, professor of FCL and member of the Project. 

Source: Universidade Estadual Paulista

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