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Wastepickers fight against incinerator in the city of Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil

Wastepickers in Mauá mobilize against the installation of an incinerator that would daily burn 3,000 tons of waste from nine cities, endangering the environment, the population and the livelihoods of families living from recycling.


* English version, find Portuguese below*  In 2013, the city council of Mauá, in the state of São Paulo, approved a waste incinerator project. Financed through a public-private partnership and an estimated investment of R$500 million (about US $120 million), it is the second proposed incinerator in the ABC Paulista region, after a similar project was planned in São Bernardo do Campo but became canceled in 2017 (see the related case in the EJAtlas). [1][2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Wastepickers fight against incinerator in the city of Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil
State or province:São Paulo
Location of conflict:Mauá
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Incinerators
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The incinerator in Mauá would lead to the daily burning of 3,000 tons of waste stemming from nine cities of the ABC Pauliste region (Diadema, Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Intahaém, Juquiá, Rio Grande da Serra, Ribeirão Pires, São Bernardo do Campo, São Caetano do Sul, and Mauá) - waste was so-far deposited in Mauá's sanitary landfill. According to estimates, it would reduce waste volumes by 80 percent and produce heat that generates electricity of about 77 MW.

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Project area:7,2 ha
Level of Investment:120,000.00
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2013
Company names or state enterprises:Lara Central de Tratamento de Resíduos Ltda from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Conselho Estadual de Meio Ambiente (Consema)
CETESB -Companhia Ambiental do Estado de São Paulo
Ministério do Meio-Ambiente (MMA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Aliança Resíduo Zero Brasil -

Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis (MNCR; National Movement of the Pickers of Recyclable Material -

Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:New legislation
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Wastepickers demand the prioritization of selective collection over incineration, as it is also designated in Brazil's National Solid Waste Policy and its attempted implementation through law 12.305/2010.

Os catadores entendem que a alternativa é cumprir a hierarquia de tratamentos estabelecida pela Lei 12.305/2010 (que institui a Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos - PNS), que dá preferência ao processo de reciclagem e obriga que a recuperação energética seja o último recurso.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Incineration is definitely not an ecologically or socially recommended practice. It would be appropriate to encourage other solutions, such as recycling, as provided by Brazilian law.

The advancing of the project plans has triggered notable mobilization from wastepicker movements, supported by NGOs and the Zero Waste Alliance, linked to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). Nevertheless, Brazil’s government has positioned itself in favor of incineration at the expense of more sustainable policies.

A incineração definitivamente não é uma prática ecologicamente ou socialmente recomendada. Seria adequado o incentivo a outras soluções, como a reciclagem, conforme prevê a legislação brasileira.

Há mobilização tentando o cancelamento do projeto, articulada, em especial, pelos movimentos dos catadores, mas apoiada também por ONGs como a Aliança Resíduo Zero Brasil, ligada à Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). No entanto, não apenas o governo municipal, mas o posicionamento
do governo brasileiro tem incentivado a incineração em detrimento de políticas sustentáveis.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos
[click to view]

Estudo de Impacto Ambiental (EIA)
[click to view]

[6] Relatório de Impacto Ambiental (RIMA)
[click to view]

[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Rede Brasil Atual: "Ricardo Salles sepulta Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos ao incentivar incineradores". Published on December 06, 2019
[click to view]

[5] MNCR: "Catadores vão à luta contra incinerador em Mauá". Published on December 13, 2019
[click to view]

[1] Repórter Diário: "Lara apresenta projeto de usina para prefeitos do ABC". Published in January 2020.
[click to view]

[10] MNCR: "Encontro Latino Americano aborda destruição de recicláveis em cimenteiras e incineradores". Published on September 12, 2019.
[click to view]

[4] Folha de São Paulo newspaper (journalist Mara Gama): "Projeto de incineradora em Mauá acende alerta". Published on November 29, 2019
[click to view]

[2] Agência Bom Dia ABCD: "Mauá terá usina de incineração de lixo". Published on December 22, 2013.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[8] Rede TVT: "Incinerador em Mauá é cancerígeno".
[click to view]

[7] "Queima de lixo em Mauá não". Petition.
[click to view]

Other documents

Photo: site MNCR Photo taken from
[click to view]

Street demonstrations in Mauá, 2019 (MNCR)
[click to view]

Call for demonstration march in December 2019 (MNCR)
[click to view]

Wastepickers intervening in public audience over the incinerator project, 2019 (MNCR)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Marcos Todt, PUCRS ([email protected]) & EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update20/02/2020
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