The featured project of Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil in October foresees the implementation of a biogas plant in the State Supply Centre (CEASA) of Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, which promotes, regulates and organizes the marketing of horticultural products at wholesale level.
The initiative led by Instituto Lixo e Cidadania and PlanET Biogás Global GmbH will produce renewable energy, fuel and fertilizers from organic waste and will engage informal waste scavengers from the region.
In addition, another project by Instituto Lixo e Cidadania together with the Institute of Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS), from Germany, will create a Recycling and Processing Unit for materials sent by associations and cooperatives based in the State of Paraná, in an inclusive circular economy strategy to add value to the chain of informal waste scavengers.
Check out an interview with Rejane Paredes, executive coordinator at Instituto Lixo e Cidadania and Athaydes Leite, consultant for Planet Biogás Global GmbH.
1 - Instituto Lixo e Cidadania joined PlanET Biogás GmbH for the implementation of a biogas plant in the State Supply Centre (CEASA) of Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, which carries out the promotion, regulation and organization of the marketing of horticultural products at wholesale level. Could you tell us how the partnership came about and at what point the project is?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) Contact with Planet Biogas GmbH arose from the event organized by Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil, "Matchmaking mission", in the year 2018. As a result of the event, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Instituto Lixo e Cidadania and Planet Biogas GmbH.
The idea of the project for the use of solid organic waste generated in the units of the State Supply Centre (CEASA) arose in 2005 between Instituto Lixo e Cidadania and German Institute IfaS (www.stoffstrom.org), where Dr. Athaydes Leite, project director, studied for his master's degree.
2 - How can informal waste scavengers participate in this process?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) The focus of the project is on the activities of the scavengers organized in associations and cooperatives, who already operate within the State Supply Centre (CEASA/PR), at Associação Amar Ebenezer. However, the project is inclusive. All the scavengers who work in the collection of organic materials will be able to participate in the initiative.
We are articulating with the Presidency of the State Supply Centre (CEASA/PR) to promote the registration of participants, aiming that they, in addition to participating in the process focused on Biogas, also participate in other initiatives aimed at training and improvements in health and work conditions.
3 - What is the scenario of the activity of informal waste scavengers in Curitiba? Do you have any data to share?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) In Curitiba, as in any other region of the country or the world, those who scavenge recyclable material for a living certainly did not freely elect this activity as a profession, but had this as the only option. It is estimated that there are 5,000 waste scavengers working in the collection of recyclables in Curitiba, approximately 1,200 of those work organized in associations and/or cooperatives, collecting annually an average amount of 40,000 tons of waste (data from ILIX for the year 2018).
The scavengers are the only ones that make up the Circular Economy, the activity represents a great benefit for the city and the environment, enabling an important part in the recycling chain, contributing to reducing the contamination of the environment, river waters and groundwater, in addition to providing income generation and improvement in the living conditions of the workers.
In Curitiba, selective collection has been performed since 1990 and covers 100% of the city, which produces about 1,200 tons of solid waste per day. The service of collection and transportation of household solid waste in Curitiba includes the regular service of collection and selective collection that is divided into selective collection door to door through the program Lixo que não é Lixo (Garbage that is not Garbage), and collection at exchange points for the program Câmbio Verde (Green Exchange).
The trucks, after the completion of selective collection and collection at the green exchange points, are weighed and sealed, and the recycled material is sent to the 40 Associations and Cooperatives of waste scavengers based in Curitiba, which have a service provision contract established with the city hall.
4 - What are the main benefits of the biogas plant installed in the State Supply Centre (CEASA) in Curitiba?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) From the anaerobic digestion of solid waste, biogas will be produced that can be used as fuel or can be transformed by a cogeneration plant into electrical and thermal energy. This energy can be used for the operation of the biogas plant, and for consumption in the facilities of the State Supply Centre (CEASA), which implies a reduction in operating costs.
In addition, the State Supply Centre (CEASA) will have an innovative and environmentally friendly use through the transformation of organic materials and will be able to market good quality fertilizers, also coming from the digestion of organic waste. The biogas plant project generates added value for the State Supply Centre (CEASA) and the region, as it generates regional employment, produces organic fertilizers, produces renewable energy, has technology and knowledge transfer and reduces CO2 emissions.
These factors increase the competitiveness and innovation of the State Supply Centre (CEASA) to manage its organic waste and represent positive aspects for the image of CEASA before its customers.
5 - What financing resources could be used for the implementation of the biogas plant at CEASA in Curitiba?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) The financing of waste scavengers’ cooperatives is an objective expressed in item VIII of article 7 of Law 12,305/2010. Therefore, we expect the state to guarantee, with its own resources or through financing, all the necessary infrastructure for the implementation of the biogas plant.
6 - How does the initiative fit into the context of the National Solid Waste Policy which seeks to allow progress in tackling problems arising from waste management in Brazil?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) The objectives of the National Solid Waste Policy are to protect public health and environmental quality; to encourage the recycling industry by encouraging the use of raw materials and inputs derived from recycled materials; and to integrate the associations and cooperatives of scavengers of reusable and recyclable materials into actions that involve shared responsibility for the life cycle of products. The Project is totally adherent, considering that it seeks sustainability through recycling, incorporating the scavengers of recyclable materials in its productive model, allowing the social and productive inclusion of these people.
The implementation of the project will bring benefits to the scavengers through the increase in income and solidification of the presence of the scavenger's work as a protagonist in the recycling chain.
7 - Could you share some examples of the use of waste collected by informal garbage scavengers, in addition to the partnership with the Curitiba Supply Centre (CEASA)?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) The isolated sale of the material - carried out individually by informal waste scavengers - allows the exploitation of the waste scavenger by intermediaries, who, paying a very low price for the collection and sorting carried out by the waste scavengers, are able to gather the material and sell it in scale to the industry with a high profit margin, to the detriment of the one at the end of the collection chain, usually on the margins of dignity.
On the other hand, the organized scavengers make their living out of the collection and sorting and commercialization of various materials, received by the selective collection trucks, collected individually, or as a result of the destination of large generators that are taken to associations and cooperatives where the materials are separated into different types (for example: paper, plastic, metal, glass, residual cooking oil, etc.). The collected materials are commercialized, processed and reincorporated in production processes, generating income and direct and indirect work, in addition to a reduction in the consumption of resources and primary raw materials, which represents a significant saving in CO2 emissions.
8 - There is a project by Instituto Lixo e Cidadania in partnership with the Institute of Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS), from Germany, for the research of the waste management scenario in Curitiba and the design of strategies to add value to the chain of informal scavengers. Could you explain the importance of the partnership and Low Carbon Brazil in this process?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) Sure. There is another project being articulated with the objective of implementing a Recycling and Beneficiation Unit of recyclable materials, sent by associations and cooperatives with headquarters in the State of Paraná. The benefited materials will be commercialized directly with the industry that uses the secondary raw material to manufacture the most varied products, as a way to add value and competitiveness.
Currently, the productive cycle of recycling ends up benefiting in a sustainable way only the entrepreneurs of recycling. The scavenger, despite being the protagonist of the process and being at the end of the production chain, being the largest collector in small and large centres, ends up being, in practice, a mere supplier of raw material and cheap labour - if not a slave.
The study by the Institute of Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS) contemplates the processing of all materials received by associations and cooperatives, including materials that are currently not screened because there is no buyer market or technology for recovery, available in the Brazilian market. We believe that with the implementation of the project, while the intermediaries who exploit the work of scavengers are removed from the recycling chain, a better selling price is obtained due to the transformation, quality and quantity of centralized material, all reverted into benefits for the category of organized scavengers - even stimulating their organization.
The partnership between ILIX and IfaS is very important. ILIX has been receiving advice from IfaS since 2005 on issues related to the generation of added value and the improvement of working conditions for waste scavengers, mainly through training and the development of circular economy initiatives. The two ILIX projects within the framework of Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil, with Planet Biogás (organic waste) and IfaS (recyclable materials), complement each other and aim to increase the added value of waste management, improve the quality of life of waste scavengers, introducing strategies for regional circular economy and climate protection.
The support, networking and joint work of Instituto Lixo e Cidadania with Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil is very important for the development and implementation of projects in Curitiba.
9 - How can circular economy benefit the informal chain of waste management in the capital city of the state of Paraná? What would be its main pillars and strategies?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) The National Solid Waste Policy guarantees the participation of associations and cooperatives in the entire process and stages of solid waste management. Not only in the collection, or in sorting warehouses But, by integrating them and sharing the responsibility for the life cycle of products (article 6, item III, of Law 12,305/2010). In other words, cooperatives and associations should also be included in the final treatment, when it will then be possible to add value to the collected waste, either through primary or secondary transformation of the materials resulting from collection and sorting.
It is, so to speak, the closing of the cycle, with the certainty of not only guaranteeing the economic viability of the associations and cooperatives, but also the system of integrated and shared management of solid waste itself.
The benefits are innumerable: increase in the income of scavengers; eradication of child labour due to the elevation of the socioeconomic condition of the families; improvement in the rates of selective collection, recycling and reuse; valorisation of environmental education as an instrument of effectiveness of PNRS, environmental preservation, reduction of materials disposed of in the landfill and expenditure of public resources; reduction of CO2 emission; exchange of knowledge and technology with Germany, innovation, generation of renewable energy and organic fertilizer, among others to be considered.
10 - What are the main socioeconomic gains that you expect to bring to the sector with the implementation of a circular economy system?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) As we have already mentioned, the project will also integrate and articulate issues related to the reduction of social inequalities - eradication of child labour in garbage collection and socioeconomic emancipation of families who survive from the collection and marketing of recyclable materials -, thus confirming the fundamental objectives of the Brazilian State, provided for in Article 3 of the Constitutional Charter. Contributing also to the possibility of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Brazilian commitment to the implementation of Agenda 21 and the promotion of decent work with sustained and inclusive economic growth. In addition to presenting innovation to those involved: City Hall, technical groups, State Supply Centre (CEASA), students and waste scavengers.
11 - What would be the main gains in waste management in the city?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) Social gains through increased income and the guarantee of true citizenship for these people; economic gains through the generation of local economic activity within a sustainable model; environmental gains through the removal of materials from the environment, reduction in the volume of materials in landfills and decrease in expenses with the transportation of these materials.
12 - How do you see the current situation of municipal waste management in Curitiba? What are its main deficiencies?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) With great concern, due to the fact that both the City of Curitiba and CONRESOL - Intermunicipal Consortium for the Management of Urban Solid Waste (Consórcio Intermunicipal para a Gestão de Resíduos Sólidos Urbanos) have adhered to the "National Incentive Program for the Incineration and Generation of Energy", in view of the publication of the Public Notice of Competition No. 001/2019 of CORENSOL, temporarily suspended, but under new publication.
The burning of recyclable solid waste has already been occurring in cement kilns in the city of Rio Branco do Sul, metropolitan region of Curitiba, in disagreement with current legislation, which does not allow the burning of solid waste, even if they are given the denomination "tailings", because if they were really tailings they would not be subject to burning.
The burning of the material will cause profound economic and social damage, especially to the category of recyclable material scavengers, because such technologies ignore the guidelines required by the National Solid Waste Policy, especially with regard to reuse and recycling, since any type of waste can be burned, provided that among them there are residues that are easy to burn, such as plastic and paper that, by their characteristics, are recyclable waste - and not tailings. Both an incineration unit and the cement kilns require a large quantity of combustible materials such as plastic and paper to generate the necessary heat which, in turn, is essential for the production of cement and for the production of energy in incinerators.
Waste scavengers are protagonists of the National Solid Waste Policy and, therefore, should effectively integrate the shared management of solid waste, in all its stages, whatever the models adopted, including in public-private partnerships. The National Solid Waste Policy is an affirmative measure of public policy aimed at addressing the structural discrimination suffered by the vulnerable social group of waste scavengers and, in this way, removing from this category access to recyclable material is a serious offence to the legal system.
The greatest deficiency is the lack of strategies to reduce waste generation, the poor quality of selective collection and the lack of use of materials. A considerable volume of organic and recyclable waste is also sent to the sanitary landfill located in another city in the metropolitan region, implying high transportation and final disposal costs.
13 - How do you expect the project to impact job generation, energy generation and the reduction of GHG emissions through the implementation of the circular economy system?
(Rejane Paredes / ILIX) Today, according to technical studies by Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (UTFPR - Federal Technological University of Paraná), only 5.7% of recyclable materials are, in fact, recycled. As the materials currently recycled allow for an increase in the income of the people involved (with reuse by adding value because of the sustainable strategies provided within the scope of the circular economy), naturally there will be a greater search for materials, an increase in the people involved, sensitizing the population to the proper disposal of recyclable materials. And by increasing the percentage of reuse of materials, the production and transportation needs will decrease, directly affecting the reduction of GHG emissions. It's a win-win situation. Environmental gains with an increase in the average income of less well-off populations.
14 - What is the expected capacity to generate renewable energy through waste collected at the State Supply Centre (CEASA) in Curitiba over a year through the project by PlanET in partnership with Instituto Lixo e Cidadania?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) 1/2MW of electric power generation with the possibility of using annually about 3,000 MWh in the form of heat through the cogeneration system in a moto-generator. These energy generation values can vary according to the availability of waste collected at the State Supply Centre (CEASA).
15 - How could the energy generated at the State Supply Centre (CEASA) plant in Curitiba be used? Would there be any use for the digestate generated after the biogas production process?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) The energy generated can be used in the facilities of the State Supply Centre (CEASA) and, if there is excess, it can be sold. The digestate in the form of fertilizer can be distributed among the suppliers of the State Supply Centre (CEASA), enabling savings with the purchase of artificial fertilizers. In addition, the digestate as an organic fertilizer increases the productivity and quality of food.
16 - What will be the main differential of the technology that PlaneET Biogas is bringing to Brazil?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) PlanET's technology is directly focused on energy production in order to make the projects economically viable. Of course, the biological part is fundamental for this. That's why we do all the process control for a safe and constant energy production all year round. We are working on technology transfer with the integration of some high-quality Brazilian equipment. Only specific products that are not yet present in the Brazilian market will be imported. We recently had our VALENTIN small plant model of approved in the Brazilian market as an innovative product and without similar in Brazil.
17 - Are there plans for this project to be implemented in other units of the State Supply Centre (CEASA) in Brazil?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) Totally! Other State Supply Centres (CEASAs) in the South, Southeast and Centre-West of Brazil have already contacted us to implement this energy project in their facilities. The demand is urgent and we are working to effectively meet the different realities, because despite the reproducibility of the model of this project, all our plants are customized according to local conditions. This is to optimise investment and project implementation costs.
18 - What kind of industry could use this technology on the Brazilian market?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) All industries that produce some kind of organic waste. We just do not work with woods or products with a high lignin content, because these types of products are not suitable for biogas production. We have more than 450 biogas plants already installed all over the world. In these plants we already process practically all kinds of residues generated by the organic material industries. In addition, we can also process urban organic waste.
19 - What is the importance of Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil in the partnership with Instituto Lixo e Cidadania? What was the contribution of Low Carbon Brazil so that this project could go ahead?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) The Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil programme was essential to consolidate our partnership with Instituto Lixo e Cidadania. Knowledge of local conditions and partners is essential for the success of the project.
20 - Could you explain the importance of Technical Assistance financed by Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil for the feasibility analysis of this project?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) Through the technical assistance of the project it was possible to understand local demands and thus develop the appropriate plant model for the State Supply Centre (CEASA).
21 - What is the expected impact on the local economy with the implementation of the biogas plant in the State Supply Centre (CEASA) in Curitiba?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) The State Supply Centre (CEASA) will be self-sustaining in the energy issue. Waste disposal costs will be converted into revenue from the installation of the plant. The entire power plant model proposed at the State Supply Centre (CEASA) will be part of a circular economy focused on the pillars of sustainability: the social, environmental and economic aspects.
22 - Could you tell us how was the experience of participation in Business To Finance, an event promoted in September by Low Carbon Business Action in Brazil for the discussion among companies and financial institutions regarding the possibility of financing projects?
(Athaydes Leite / PlanET Biogás) The Business To Finance event was very interactive and promoted a broad network of contacts and at the same time a consolidation of the contacts already established previously. During the event, we had the honour of receiving several mayors, agricultural producers, suppliers and business multipliers in our PlanET team. This enabled a very interesting round of talks with the financial institutions present. I think we all had a very positive experience at the event.