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Cities of Today, Cities of Tomorrow

Unit 6: City Solutions:
A Healthy Urban Future

Objectives Summary Text Activities

Garbage that’s not Garbage: Waste Disposal

The city of Curitiba, Brazil, does things differently. And, it seems, more successfully. When it was faced with a serious waste-management problem, it didn't do what other cities might have done. The conventional solution for such dilemmas is to go out and get a loan and then buy a $70 million recycling plant.

Curitiba decided to get its citizens involved. It mounted a campaign in schools and neighborhoods to encourage households to separate the waste: organic waste, which can be turned into compost, on one side and non-organic, but recyclable, garbage on another.

Curitiba Garbage Truck Then the city sent out a fleet of brightly-painted vans (left) to collect the "garbage that is not garbage" from all the neighborhoods. Working with an organization called the Institute for Social Integration, the city hired large numbers of previously unemployed people to separate the recyclable materials -- paper, metal, platic and glass -- a job which the $70 million recycling plant would have done at far greater cost, employing far fewer people.

The city of Curitiba saved millions of dollars. Hundreds of unemployed people became productive, salaried workers. The business community benefitted by providing the vans that collect the recyclable materials. Everyone pitched in and everyone gained.

(Adapted from: UNDP and the Urban Explosion: Crisis and Opportunity, United Nations Development Programme)

SEE ALSO SHELTER, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH, URBAN
VIOLENCE AND SAFETY
, AND WOMEN AND COMMUNITY-BUILDING


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