Open dumps, a possible solution for waste

Our cities are large consumers of energy and various natural resources. They generate tons of waste that increases year after year. The level of development and the lifestyle of each community will determine the amount and type of waste produced and its final disposal.

This amount of waste produced by all of us must be treated in an appropriate way so that it does not contaminate the air, water and the environment that surrounds us, causing, among other things, damage to health.

One of the factors that damages the health of city residents is the large amount of garbage that accumulates on unsuitable land. Open dumps are usually one of the infectious sources of many of the diseases contracted daily by the thousands of people who live in their vicinity. Statistics indicate that 19% of diseases come from causes linked to the environment. In most cases, those affected are infected through contact with infected domestic animals or rodents or through ingestion of spoiled food. Among the diseases that still persist among us are dengue and cholera.

Many of the materials that make up the garbage could have been reused, that is, recycled. Among the most common we can point out glass, paper, metals, organic waste, which can be used as fertile soil substances.

But in order to do this efficiently, a clear awareness in the population of the advantages for the environment that the reuse of these elements represents is necessary. For this it is necessary to implement dissemination campaigns in all areas.

Did you know that half of the objects we throw away constitute unnecessary trash?

Did you know what's under the earth? There is a lot of water. It runs through underground rivers and from them, many people drink the water that they use for consumption.

But. How can you take care of the water that is underground? The answer is simple. Do not throw waste, especially toxic substances, anywhere. These substances little by little penetrate into the earth, especially with the help of rain.

Unfortunately, some people throw waste on vacant land, this is imitated by others and in a short time a garbage dump is formed.

It must be understood that recycling garbage is creating work. The expiration of the current waste collection system should be taken advantage of to transfer part of the service to microenterprises and cooperatives.

Exclusion, child labor, contamination with serious health risks, low life expectancy, are some of the avoidable characteristics in the work of those who collect garbage from the street. Having reached these conditions is not only the immediate consequence of growing unemployment but also of the absence of integrative policies and the promotion of forms of production that aim at recycling waste, caring for and preserving the environment.

It is because of this that a debate is urgently needed on: projects to reconvert the waste collection system, the insertion of cartoneros into formal work and forms of organization, characteristics of the surgeon's work and improvements in the quality of life.

From garbage to waste

Garbage recycling in Argentina is done, and it involves a lot of money, which is why, like many other things, it is done clandestinely. How is it done? Through the cartoneros, who separate the garbage by hand while dodging cars, and leave behind garbage outside the bags, since they often have to tear them to open them.

I believe that the media can contribute a lot through articles on how the issue is handled in other parts of the world, contributing to the education of the population and exerting healthy pressure on the political leaders of the issue who often make big announcements and then everything. is forgotten.

Recycling consists of subjecting a material or product already used to a total or partial treatment cycle again to obtain a raw material or a new product, useful to the community.

It could also be defined as the obtaining of raw materials from waste, introducing them back into the reuse cycle and occurs in the face of the depletion of natural resources and to effectively eliminate waste.

With procedures that mix sand or clay with plastic containers, ecological bricks, tiles and slabs can be manufactured for the construction of homes. Many metallurgical companies use scrap as an input for their products. There is a growing industry for recycling PET, plastic from soda and water bottles, with which textile threads are made. The brushes, brooms, and brooms are made with this recycled material.

La vermiculture —recycling organic waste with worms—can be an ecological alternative to conventional landfills. Worms eat their own weight, so one kilogram of these worms processes one kilogram of garbage each day.

The corrugated cardboard, that of the boxes, is made entirely with recovered paper, to give just a few examples. This industry, which could grow, is supported by the work of street collectors who daily and efficiently recover these materials on the margins and take advantage of what would otherwise end up in an open dump.

The thousands and thousands of cardboard collectors who operate the streets throughout the country annually collect approximately 430.000 tons of paper, newspaper and cardboard alone, which represents an income of around 80 million pesos for them. It can be estimated that, when all of this recycled material reaches the commerce again in different ways, it has a sales value that is six-fold what the cartoneros receive. That is to say, the global business generated by cartoneros amounts to about 500 million pesos per year, only taking into account cellulosic derivatives, which is equivalent to the annual turnover of a company like Quickfood or half of Edenor or Edesur. The bulk of the money generated by the production chain that begins with the cardboard collector goes to a few large companies, demonstrating that our current waste management system is irrational, uneconomic and anti-ecological.

So changing uses and customs involves, first of all, understanding the dimension of the issue in which those who produce garbage, those who recycle it and those who generate it interact.

The 60% of them cartoons They are workers, construction workers, textile workers, gastronomic workers, among others... who lost their jobs in recent years. They work with their families, exposed to pollution and with a life expectancy of 35 years, compared to 70 years for the rest of the Argentine population. Their children join the ranks of child labor that leads to falling behind in school or directly to dropping out, to lower incomes in adult life, to access to unskilled jobs, to the reproduction of the conditions of poverty that caused their early school dropout.

In summary, the incorporation of street collectors into the formal labor market would reverse the current situation not only with the consequent benefits for this sector, but it would strengthen an incipient industry that in turn would generate jobs and would also provide the community with prominence in a common project.

It would be a stimulus to the formation of cooperatives, microenterprises or social enterprises so that their place within the waste collection system is recognized. In this way, the State could replace the scheme of work plans with genuine jobs, developing productive ventures that must have, as a basic input, recovered materials.

Cristian Frers –Higher Technician in Environmental Management and Higher Technician in Social Communication