“I try to help with everything around this community, if they need medicine, I will help them, if they need money to help their children to go to school, I support them, I just want to contribute now that my children are grown.”
Thirteen years ago, Dona Liduina embarked on a new business venture – becoming a recycling aggregator in the city of Fortaleza in the Northeast of Brazil. Fortaleza, a city of over 2.5 million people suffers from many problems typical of rapidly growing urban centres in Brazil that benefit from its economic boom over the past decade. Proper waste management is only one of the pressing environmental problems the city suffers.
Some government statistics indicate that only 6.4% of the city’s recyclable waste is actually recycled. This is why people like Liduina are so important. While some may perceive her venture as not an exciting one, she plays an important role in decreasing the amount of recyclable waste that ends up in the ocean, Cocó river, which crosses the city and enters the ocean, and the landfills, which are increasingly full.
D. Liduina collects most of her recyclable materials from the city’s beach quiosks – Fortaleza’s well known barracas de praia– where locals and tourists come to enjoy a day in the sun in the weekends. The amounts of recyclables can vary, ranging around 7 tons of plastic alone, over a long weakened. In addition to plastic, she collects iron pieces, newspapers, magazines, cachaça bottles, plastic chairs, PVC tubes and plastic bags. Most things we can think of!
She feels very proud of her work, having transitioned from selling drinks on the street and paying for university for her three children, to now be contributing to lessen the waste around the beach and helping the nearby community, from whom she also collects. She supports many individual small street collectors by buying their recyclables and on-selling to larger companies for processing.
She has become a pillar of inspiration and support in the community, in her own words “I try to help with everything around this community, if they need medicine, I will help them, if they need money to help their children to go to school, I support them, I just want to contribute now that my children are grown”.