Climate-friendly technologies and capacity development for waste policy in Brazil

People often underestimate the impact of the waste sector on climate. The policies and implementation strategies focus on effective waste management without considering the climate-related effects – this is often due to a failure to understand how the waste sector can help mitigate climate change. A recent collaboration project with partners in Brazil aimed to increase awareness and understanding of sustainable waste management.

The project focussed on improving the country’s pioneering role in sustainable waste management in Latin America. To this end, it developed waste policy that not only considers the short-term, but also long-term goals such as climate protection. The project was divided into three components, in which adelphi played a leading role. The aim of the first component was to ensure that the parameters and criteria for mitigating climate change are integrated into national regulatory and funding instruments. These tools are a prerequisite for the consolidation of low-emission treatment technologies as an alternative to landfill. Even if these treatment technologies have higher costs, they should be promoted, given their potential to reduce greenhouse gases and contribute to a circular economy.

As part of the second component, the project developed decision-making tools that enable municipalities and the private sector to select the most appropriate technologies and methods for each case. Examples of national and international best practices have been made available and disseminated and will be published on the project’s online platform. To complement this platform, the project carried out a capacity-building program for municipalities and private sector partners. This offered the opportunity to learn about methodologies, technologies, business models and strategies for implementing a sustainable municipal solid waste management system.

The third component of the project aimed to combine practical information about sustainable waste management with academic knowledge. The project created integrated university modules that explicitly deal with the climate protection potential of municipal waste. Various universities in Brazil were selected and responsible teams received training to act as facilitators for these new modules. A virtual German-Brazilian network of experts was also created to promote innovation. In addition, the project provided support for applied research projects for treatment systems and technologies with high climate protection potential in the solid waste sector in Brazil.