(Picture: Cartoneros in Buenos Aires. Credit: dandeluca.) After trying two different garbage separation and recycling plans that didn't work, the Buenos Aires government is finally launching a new plan that involves cartoneros: a group of people that have learnt to live out of waste collection during the crisis years in Argentina.
The new plan seeks to install new rules for the garbage management companies that work with the government, and leave the collection of recyclable waste to cartoneros, first in big malls and hotels and then in particular houses. So far, the government had installed containers to separate dry and humid waste, but they didn't work. Meanwhile, cartoneros continued to cooperate with the city's waste management, but where criticized by society because of their disorganization.
A complete explanation of the new plan in the extended.
Via Página 12 Newspaper.The new garbage managing plan: recyclables
On one side, the government will reach to an agreement with the cooperatives of cartoneros for them to start collecting recyclable waste that will be separated in origin, first in offices and shops and later in larger buildings and homes.
This is a huge step in the recognition of the work cartoneros have done for the city's environment: every day, they collect tons of paper and plastics that they later take to recycling facilities; preventing that waste to go to landfills. It was about time the government took advantage of the know-how this group of people have gained over the years.
The waste collected by cooperatives will be moved to 'green centers', which are spaces where they are classified and prepared for recycling. These had to be built by waste managing companies but so far there are only two of them. Now the government is assuming responsibility for them and leaving the companies only to regular waste.
However, the first step of this plan will be only with cartoneros that are part of a cooperative, which are the smallest group. Those who are not will be encouraged to join one or to work at 'green centers', where according to the government "there will be a lot of work."
The rest of the waste will continue to be managed by garbage collecting companies, but the government is negotiating a new contract with them with the following points:
-The city is now divided in five areas with five different companies collecting waste, and now it will be divided in three, which will reduce the number of companies and increase the control over them.
-The government will negotiate a ten year contract with these companies and it will start paying them over ton of garbage collected, while so far it was by 'clean area'. As the period is longer (it used to be a five year contract), authorities will demand companies more investment in technology and human labor.
-The budget that will be destined to this new contract is an annual 700 million pesos (230 million dollars).
In the city, the government is planning to increase the amount of trash cans from 50 thousand to 100 thousand, to try to keep Buenos Aires cleaner. And the environmental minister of the city, Juan Pablo Piccardo, declined the possibility of trash incineration, which had been studied a few months ago but that is forbidden by law.
The 'Zero Waste' Law
All of these decisions are framed in the Zero Waste law, which establishes dates to reduce the amount of garbage that goes to landfills. By 2010, the city should reduce this by 30% from what it generated in 2004 (a million and a half tons). By 2012, the reduction should be 50% and in 2017, 75%.
Over the last weeks, there were some complaints from organizations like Greenpeace over the implementation of this law.
The city's Environmental Minister told Página 12 that the law is "philosophically correct," but that the periods of time established could be discussed, and mentioned the actions the city is doing to implement it.
-A law that establishes that companies pay a contribution according to the amount of packaging they produce;
-The reutilization of arid waste for particular foundation fillings;
-The indoor particular waste classification and recollection door to door.
A place for cartoneros, by Pagina 12 newspaper (in Spanish)
Buenos Aires Previous Recycling Plan
More on cartoneros: Cartoneros, Writers + Artists: Eloisa Cartonera Books
How to Green Your Recycling