Last update:
2019-08-22

Wastepicker struggles and water contamination in Jardim Gramacho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With the closure of Latin America's largest dump, thousands of people lost their principal way to sustain themselves. Now waste is dumped illegally, water contamination and social struggles continue while promises of sustainable development remain hot air


Description:

A history of waste dumping and picking

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Wastepicker struggles and water contamination in Jardim Gramacho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Country:Brazil
State or province:Rio de Janeiro
Location of conflict:Duque de Caxias
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Urban development conflicts
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Gas flaring
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Industrial waste
Natural Gas
Land
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

At the moment of closure in June 2012, the Jardim Gramacho dump spanned over an area of about 130 hectares with mountains that contained an estimated 60 to 80 million tons of decomposing trash, making it one of the world’s biggest landfills. The waste stemmed to 90 percent from the city of Rio de Janeiro as well as from the municipalities of Niterói, Nova Iguaçu, Duque de Caxias, Petrópolis, Teresópolis, São João de Meriti, Nilópolis, Queimada and Mesquita (about 8,000 tons per day in the years before the closure, although numbers vary). [1][3][16]

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Project area:130
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:~20,000
Start of the conflict:2004
Company names or state enterprises:Companhia Municipal de Limpeza Urbana (Comlurb) from Brazil
Gás Verde from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Federal Public Ministry (MPF)
Ministry of Environment
State Environmental Institute (INEA; Instituto Estadual de Ambiente)
Secretaria de Meio Ambiente, Agricultura e Abastecimento de Duque de Caxias
Municipalities of Rio de Janeiro and Duque de Caxias
State of Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação de Catadores do Aterro Metropolitano de Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG)
Fórum Comunitário de Jardim Gramacho
Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis (MNCR)
Conselho de lideranças dos catadores e catadoras do Jardim Gramacho
Movimento SOS Jardim Gramacho
Movimento Baía Viva
Movimento Eu Sou Catador (MESC)
NGO Teto
Colônia de Pesca de Duque de Caxias
Associação Homens e Mulheres do Mar da Baía de Guanabara (AHOMAR)
Associação Carioca de Catadores e Ex-catadores (Acex)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Artists, filmmakers
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Global warming, Noise pollution, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights
Potential: Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:Movements of wastepickers and of the Jardim Gramacho neighborhood have brought forward a long list of demands for social rights and inclusion for wastepickers and public policies for the incentivization of separate collection. For example, Tião Santos, representative of MNCR and one of the speakers of the wastepicker association of Gramacho, pointed to the importance of broader public awareness and the creation of public infrastructure for waste separation in Rio de Janeiro: “I hope people break their preconceptions about what they think is garbage and what actually is garbage, and that the state government manages to implement separate collections in the 92 municipalities and that pickers in the 92 municipalities are guaranteed social and economic inclusion” [16]. In addition, the movements demand revitalization of the neighborhood’s environment, the improvement of public infrastructure and measures against extreme poverty and insecurity in order to create perspectives and better living standards for the local population.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite powerful mobilization by the local wastepickers association, this case shows a series of environmental injustices that seem to be ongoing and unsolved. The social crisis and lack of effective public action appears clearly linked to problems in waste management and a wider political crisis.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] IPEA (2013): Situação Social das Catadoras e dos Catadores de Material Reciclável e Reutilizável. Brasília.
[click to view]

[27] Pacheco, T.; Porto, M; Rocha, D. (2013): Injustiça ambiental e saúde no Brasil: o Mapa de Conflitos. Rio de Janeiro, Fiocruz.

[31] Pacheco, T.; Porto, M; Rocha, D. (2013): Injustiça ambiental e saúde no Brasil: o Mapa de Conflitos. Rio de Janeiro, Fiocruz.
[click to view]

[8] IPEA (2013): Situação Social das Catadoras e dos Catadores de Material Reciclável e Reutilizável. Brasília.
[click to view]

[18] MCTIC (2012): Contribuição da Atividade deProjeto Gramacho de Gás de Aterropara o Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Rio de Janeiro, October 2012.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[11] Gandra, A. (2019): Um bilhão de litros de chorume são despejados na Baía de Guanabara. 20.03.2019, Agência Brasil.
[click to view]

[12] Brocchetto, M; Ansari, A. (2012): Landfill's closure changing lives in Rio. CNN Online, 02.06.2012.
[click to view]

[13] Calderini, L. (2018): Aquífero de Seropédica sofre risco de contaminação devido ao aterro de lixo. Seropédica Online, 22.03.2018.
[click to view]

[14] Marcolini, B. (2013): Um ano após fechamento de Gramacho, promessas ainda no papel. O Globo, 14.06.2013.
[click to view]

[4] Barchfield, J. (2012): Rio closes its massive Jardim Gramacho dump. NBC News Online, 06.02.3012.
[click to view]

[5] Fonseca, F.; Pereira, V. (2019): Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy and its Inadequacies in Rio’s Baixada Fluminense. RioOnWatch, 04.04.2019.
[click to view]

[16] Clarke, F. (2012): Waste Land Pickers Struggle from Landfill Closure. RioOnWatch, 21.06.2012.
[click to view]

[21] MNCR (2008): Ação direta do MNCR no Rio de Janeiro - Manifestação na Prefeitura de Duque de Caxias.
[click to view]

[6] Carvalho, J. (2015): Lixões clandestinos em Gramacho oferecem risco à saúde de moradores. 02.06.2015, Globo G1. Online, last accessed 10.08.2019.
[click to view]

[10] Residualogics (2015): Organização dos catadores. 12.08.2015.
[click to view]

[1] Alves, M. (2019): Jardim Gramacho: a Bangladesh que se esconde no Rio de Janeiro. Diario do Rio, 18.03.2019.
[click to view]

[2] Globo G1 (2013): RJ: projeto inédito no mundo produz energia a partir de gás metano do lixo. 16.05.2013.
[click to view]

[3] Mulhern, S. (2015): When the world’s largest landfill closed, a city of garbage pickers collapsed. The Plaid Zebra, 10.02.2015.
[click to view]

[3] Mulhern, S. (2015): When the world’s largest landfill closed, a city of garbage pickers collapsed. The Plaid Zebra, 10.02.2015. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[4] Barchfield, J. (2012): Rio closes its massive Jardim Gramacho dump. NBC News Online, 06.02.3012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[5] Fonseca, F.; Pereira, V. (2019): Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy and its Inadequacies in Rio’s Baixada Fluminense. RioOnWatch, 04.04.2019. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[6] Carvalho, J. (2015): Lixões clandestinos em Gramacho oferecem risco à saúde de moradores. 02.06.2015, Globo G1. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[7] Oliveira, G. (2018): Ofensiva contra o lixo: país se engaja em debate sobre a coleta seletiva. Senado Notícias, 14.08.2018.
[click to view]

[9] Oliveira, G. (2018): Ofensiva contra o lixo: país se engaja em debate sobre a coleta seletiva. Senado Notícias, 14.08.2018. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[9] Rede Mobilizadores (2011): A luta de catadores de recicláveis de Gramacho pela inclusão social. 03.11.2011.
[click to view]

[12] Brocchetto, M; Ansari, A. (2012): Landfill's closure changing lives in Rio. CNN Online, 02.06.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[13] Calderini, L. (2018): Aquífero de Seropédica sofre risco de contaminação devido ao aterro de lixo. Seropédica Online, 22.03.2018. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[16] Noronha, S. (2017): Jardim Gramacho segue sem revitalização cinco anos após o fim do lixão. Casa Fluminense, 01.06.2017. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[17] Albuquerque, R. (2013): Usina de Gás Verde é inaugurada em Jardim Gramacho. Rio Prefeitura Online, 07.06.2013. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[22] Tavares N. (2012): O ponto de vista dos catadores de Jardim Gramacho. (catadores press release) Recicloteca, 13.04.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[25] Faccioli, C. (2019): MPF denuncia Gás Verde por lançamento de chorume do aterro de Gramacho. Portal Eu Rio, 12.06.2019.
[click to view]

[34] Lima, M. (2018): Organização de catadores, gestão de resíduos e política no Rio de Janeiro. Residualogis Online, 09.08.2018. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[37] Soares, J. (2016): Moradores protestam na BR-040 por melhorias no Jardim Gramacho, RJ. Globo G1, 28.05.2016. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[21] Alves, N; Blore, S. (2012): America's largest landfill, leaves garbage pickers with an uncertain future. O Globo, 30.05.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[25] Contini, D. (2019): SOS Jardim Gramacho Mobilizes Residents, Recycling Cooperatives at Former Mass Landfill Site. RioOnWatch, 16.08.2019. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[26] Pedlowski, M. (2018): Justiça determina medidas para conter chorume do Aterro de Gramacho na Baía de Guanabara. Blog do Pedlowski, 24.05.2018.
[click to view]

[15] Albuquerque, R. (2013): Usina de Gás Verde é inaugurada em Jardim Gramacho. Rio Prefeitura Online, 07.06.2013.
[click to view]

[2] Globo G1 (2013): RJ: projeto inédito no mundo produz energia a partir de gás metano do lixo. 16.05.2013. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[20] Clarke, F. (2012): Waste Land Pickers Struggle from Landfill Closure. RioOnWatch, 21.06.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[35] MNCR (2008): Ação direta do MNCR no Rio de Janeiro - Manifestação na Prefeitura de Duque de Caxias. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[36] Movimento Eu Sou Catador (2019, facebook page). Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[17] Alves, N; Blore, S. (2012): America's largest landfill, leaves garbage pickers with an uncertain future. O Globo, 30.05.2012.
[click to view]

[18] Noronha, S. (2017): Jardim Gramacho segue sem revitalização cinco anos após o fim do lixão. Casa Fluminense, 01.06.2017.
[click to view]

[19] Contini, D. (2019): SOS Jardim Gramacho Mobilizes Residents, Recycling Cooperatives at Former Mass Landfill Site. RioOnWatch, 16.08.2019.
[click to view]

[20] Lima, M. (2018): Organização de catadores, gestão de resíduos e política no Rio de Janeiro. Residualogis Online, 09.08.2018.
[click to view]

[22] Tavares N. (20192): O ponto de vista dos catadores de Jardim Gramacho. (catadores press release) Recicloteca, 13.04.2012.
[click to view]

[23] Movimento Eu Sou Catador (2019, facebook page)
[click to view]

[24] Soares, J. (2016): Moradores protestam na BR-040 por melhorias no Jardim Gramacho, RJ. Globo G1, 28.05.2016.
[click to view]

[1] Alves, M. (2019): Jardim Gramacho: a Bangladesh que se esconde no Rio de Janeiro. Diario do Rio, 18.03.2019. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[29] Faccioli, C. (2019): MPF denuncia Gás Verde por lançamento de chorume do aterro de Gramacho. Portal Eu Rio, 12.06.2019. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[30] Pedlowski, M. (2018): Justiça determina medidas para conter chorume do Aterro de Gramacho na Baía de Guanabara. Blog do Pedlowski, 24.05.2018. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[14] Simões, M.; Roza, G. (2018): O pescador contra todos. A Publica, 28.05.2018.
[click to view]

[23] Globo G1 (2012): Após protesto, PM reforça segurança no Aterro de Gramacho, RJ. 03.05.2012.
[click to view]

[33] Residualogics (2015): Organização dos catadores. 12.08.2015. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[7] Carvalho, J. (2015): G1 relata abandono de moradores de Gramacho, 3 anos após lixão fechar. Globo G1, 01.06.2015.
[click to view]

[15] Marcolini, B. (2013): Um ano após fechamento de Gramacho, promessas ainda no papel. O Globo, 14.06.2013. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[19] Leta, T. (2012): Gramacho enfrentam confusão para resgatar cartão de indenizações. O Globo, 01.06.2012.
[click to view]

[10] Gandra, A. (2019): Um bilhão de litros de chorume são despejados na Baía de Guanabara. 20.03.2019, Agência Brasil. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[11] Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra (2015): Catadora relembra ‘massacre de autoestima’ em lixão de Gramacho. 20.01.2015.
[click to view]

[11] Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra (2015): Catadora relembra ‘massacre de autoestima’ em lixão de Gramacho. 20.01.2015. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[26] Globo G1 (2015): Prefeito se desculpa por descaso com moradores de Gramacho, no RJ. 01.06.2015.
[click to view]

[27] Agência Brasil (2014): Inea fecha lixão clandestino na Baixada Fluminense. 20.06.2014. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[27] Agência Brasil (2014): Inea fecha lixão clandestino na Baixada Fluminense. 20.06.2014.
[click to view]

[28] O Dia (2019): Um criminoso é baleado e outros seis presos durante operação no Jardim Gramacho. 30.07.2019.
[click to view]

[24] Bernhardt, E. (2014): Polo de Reciclagem de Jardim Gramacho: a quem queremos enganar? Recicloteca, 10.04.2014. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[28] O Dia (2019): Um criminoso é baleado e outros seis presos durante operação no Jardim Gramacho. 30.07.2019. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[26] Globo G1 (2015): Prefeito se desculpa por descaso com moradores de Gramacho, no RJ. 01.06.2015. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[19] Leta, T. (2012): Gramacho enfrentam confusão para resgatar cartão de indenizações. O Globo, 01.06.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[23] Globo G1 (2012): Após protesto, PM reforça segurança no Aterro de Gramacho, RJ. 03.05.2012. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[31] Pacheco, T.; Porto, M; Rocha, D. (2013): Injustiça ambiental e saúde no Brasil: o Mapa de Conflitos. Rio de Janeiro, Fiocruz.
[click to view]

[7] Carvalho, J. (2015): G1 relata abandono de moradores de Gramacho, 3 anos após lixão fechar. Globo G1, 01.06.2015. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

[24] Bernhardt, E. (2014): Polo de Reciclagem de Jardim Gramacho: a quem queremos enganar? Recicloteca, 10.04.2014.
[click to view]

[32] Rede Mobilizadores (2011): A luta de catadores de recicláveis de Gramacho pela inclusão social. 03.11.2011. Online, last accessed: 03.09.2019.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video: "Fechamento lixão de Gramacho - Parte 1"
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update22/08/2019
Comments
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