Empowerment for Vulnerable Recylers Through Landfill Gas Development
Because of the success of the Community TIES program, the US EPA contracted with the Appalachian State University Energy Center to spread the concept of “landfill gas for community development program” internationally through the GLOBAL METHANE INITIATIVE. EPA provided funding for the project. The northeastern Brazil state of Ceara was chosen as the pilot project. The ASU team visited 7 municipal landfills looking for the best candidate for a community-based landfill gas project. The municipality of Maracanau was selected. The committee formed by the local municipality determined that the best use for the gas was to provide value added processing of recycled products like plastic, glass, and metals recovered by local waste-pickers from incoming garbage. The intent was to increase the income of these families to improve their standard of living. The Brazilian Ministry of the Environment awarded a grant for the project of about $1,000,000US to pay for the project. Unfortunately, an economic downturn and newly elected political leadership resulted in the project being abandoned.
Although this project was never completed there remain documents which could be used to restart a project in Brazil or elsewhere.
This is a worldwide opportunity as on-site recyclers pick through the waste at landfills worldwide - except in the most wealthy countries. The World Bank estimates that 1-2% of the world's population makes their living in this way. In Brazil, these workers are known as "catadores". Elsewhere they are known as scavengers, waste-pickers, etc. But they are all recyclers.