Brazils poor hunt aluminum cans as swap for food
RIO DE JANEIRO - Mass support for collection schemes where the countrys poor swap hauls for rice, beans and even condoms could soon make Brazil the worlds top aluminum can recycler, a top industry body said yesterday.
Brazil is already one of the worlds most efficient can recyclers and expects to see this years reprocessing rate rise to 77 percent of all cans used, close to the level held by current leader Japan where 79 percent of used beverage cans are recycled.
"The aluminum can has democratized the scrap market," said Jose Roberto Giosa, recycling commission coordinator of the Brazilian Aluminum Association.
"Recycling works in Brazil because (used beverage cans) may be swapped for money, food and other items. It gives permanent cash generation for unskilled labour and those unable to find work in the formal economy," he said.
Brazils recycling of cans this year should be the equivalent of about 100,000 tonnes and its rate should become the highest in the world next year at over 80 percent, the association coordinator said.
CANS FOR COMPUTERS AND CONDOMS
About 150,000 Brazilians earned a living of some $200 a month from picking up used cans in public places such as bars, streets and the beach - or 50 percent more people than employed by Brazils entire automotive industry, Giosa said.
Brazils minimum wage is 151 reais ($81) a month.
Individual collectors take their bags of used beverage cans to collection points set up by companies in urban centres and receive an average of 1.50 reais ($0.81) per kilogram (2.2 pounds), or roughly 67 used cans.
A collector can swap 45 used cans for one kilogram of black beans and 35 for a kilogram of rice, Giosa said.
Recycling company Reciclagem de Materiais (Reciclar), active in Brazils huge centre-west, says it offers a condom for every used can during the countrys Carnival celebrations.
Schools and other institutions taking part in the scheme are supplied free of charge with can-crushing units which when full may be swapped for products including food, fans and computers by can processing companies. A photocopying machine requires nearly 190,000 cans.
Collection and recycling of used cans helps cut manufacturing costs and saved around 115 million reais ($62 million) in 1999 for Brazils aluminum producers, which buy the recycled material for use in their smelters.
The United States is still world champion in numbers of cans used and recycled as its yearly consumption hovers around 100 billion cans.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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