By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Latin America’s largest landfill site, Jardim Gramacho in Duque de Caixas, is set to shut down on May 6th. The closure, which was announced by Mayor Eduardo Paes earlier this week, will come just in time for Rio to host to the Rio+20 UN environmental conference.

Jardim Gramacho in Rio, the largest dump site in Latin America will be closed, leaving some out of work, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Jardim Gramacho in Rio, the largest dump site in Latin America will be closed, leaving some out of work, photo by Andre Gomes de Melo/Imprensa RJ.

Putting an end to decades of environmental strain, the landfill will be transformed in to a park, however the government’s waste department, Companhia Municipal de Limpeza Urbana (COMLURB), has estimated that it will take at least fifteen years for the land to fully recover.

The closure means that many of the people working at the dump site, those who trawl through the landfill recovering materials for recycling, will be out of a job.

O Globo reported that there have been over 3,000 people working at the landfill, in appalling conditions, seeking out cans, plastics, paper and other recyclable materials, in up to 10,000 tons of waste dumped there each day.

It has been reported that compensation money will be awarded to some of the workers there, but disputes have arisen as to how many are eligible. Municipal secretary of Conservation, Carlos Roberto Osório stated, “For six months, the city will pay a scholarship and R$500 to reorganize the pickers.”

The landfill site only receives 25 percent the amount of waste it used to, and the people working there, who used to earn up to R$3,000 a month, are reportedly now struggling to make more than R$800 a month for the recycled materials they collect.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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  1. This development serves as a postscript to Vik Muniz’s eye-opening story in his portrayal of Jardim Gramacho in his brilliant documentary, “Waste Land.” This outcome, on the one hand, is truly devastating for those people whose livelihoods will be drastically reduced or dispensed with altogether. On the other hand, the hand of soi-disant, “progress,” renewal and development will follow. Unfortunately, the likely path of that development will be snatched up by the oligarchy. Survival of the fittest perhaps? Time will tell. Having seen the film, I have a trifle more understanding of the sufferings to be endured by many of the faces I saw on the screen. Sinto muito!

  2. To all the brave pickers in the film waste land and the unknown pickers…..There is a lesson to be learned. Your old jobs will always take you into a new job and a new direction. Bring your large tubs and boxes to the neighborhoods. Show everyone how to recyle from the home front. Set up different districts for the pickers.This way there will be less garbage to wade through and set up a company to pick up the containers dailey.

    Also I don’t understand why no one was piping off the methane gas from the landfill that could supply the pickers community with cooking gas? Or some big corporation piping it into Rio…….with a percentage going to the Catadores Association.

    Good luck to all of you!!!!


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