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By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With more than one hundred blocos and over 800,000 revelers taking over the streets of Rio this past weekend, the city’s sanitation department, COMLURB, was faced with the arduous task of ensuring the short Rio workweek could return to some semblance of order by Monday (February 20th) morning.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
With more than one hundred blocos during this weekend’s Pre-Carnival, COMLURB, had its hands full to remove the 61 tons of garbage left behind, photo courtesy of Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro.

According to city officials, following the Pre-Carnival festivities this past Friday (February 17th), Saturday (February 18th) and Sunday (February 19th), COMLURB, had to remove a total of 61 tons of garbage generated from the blocos and street parades throughout the city.

Of the blocos that took place on Friday, partygoers who enjoyed the ‘Ih, É Carnaval!’ bloco in Urca and ‘Badalo do Santa Teresa’ in Santa Teresa, left 280 kgs of garbage each. ‘Molha o Pé das Oito’ in Centro produced a relatively minor 120 kgs of garbage by comparison. These numbers only represented a small taste of things to come.

The partying, along with the accompanying garbage produced, kicked into high gear on Saturday. According to city officials, the ‘Bloco da Areia’ in Leblon produced 1.95 tons of waste, while in Barra, ‘Bloco Do Samba’ revelers left behind 1.24 tons of garbage. These figures, however, fell far behind ‘o Simpatia é quase amor’ in Ipanema, which generated an impressive 5.25 tons of garbage on Saturday.

The weekend finale on Sunday, February 19th, would push COMLURB, to its outer limits. A couple of standouts on the Pre-Carnival finale day were ‘Banda da Barra’ in Barra and ‘Bloco da Preta’ in Centro, which generated 4.9 and 7.8 tons of garbage respectively.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
The city’s post-bloco cleanup plan, Protocolo de Blocos, quantified the amount of labor, containers, equipment and vehicles to be used in the cleanup effort, photo courtesy of Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro.

Yet both of those figures paled in comparison to the bloco which had the distinction of producing the most garbage for the entire weekend: ‘Chora, Me Liga,’ in Copacabana, which left behind a whopping 9.4 tons of garbage for COMLURB, cleanup crews.

The city’s cleanup plan was the realization of a coordinated effort called Protocolo de Blocos, which quantified the amount of labor, containers, equipment and vehicles to be used in the post-bloco cleanup. The metrics for each category were based on the location and size of the blocos with the goal of ensuring the greatest cleanup efficiency.

In total, Protocolo de Blocos called for some 1,100 sanitation workers, five thousand containers, ninety blowers, and over fifty sanitation vehicles to be used each day, including compactor trucks, dump trucks, and both regular-sized and mini-sweepers.

Anne Dorst, a Dutch expatriate living in Rio and director of De Rioranje School, shares her thoughts on the clean-up effort. “They usually clean up pretty fast, though I often wonder why they don’t put more trash cans on the streets so that people can through empty cans [and trash] away themselves! Especially with blocos near the beach I wonder how much trash ends up in the water before COMLURB even gets the chance to clean up.”

On Monday, city officials also released weekend figures from the city’s Lixo Zero (Zero Waste) program. The program has 235 teams, consisting of COMLURB, enforcement officers and municipal guards, who were stationed at the various blocos on the lookout for a litany of infractions, such as public urination and littering.

According to representatives of the the program, this Pre-carnival weekend, Lixo Zero agents issued over five hundred fines, with 306 people fined for urinating in public and 244 for littering. The fines for each offense are R$548 and R$200 respectively.

Rio’s 2017 Carnival blocos and street parades will take place throughout the city until the weekend after Carnival with fifteen street parties on the final day, Sunday, March 5th. This year, there are a total of 451 blocos, with 578 parades due to take place across the city, according to the 2017 Carnival official schedule.

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