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Incinerator of urban solid waste in Barueri, São Paulo, Brazil


Description:

Brazil’s first incinerator for domestic solid waste is planned to be built in the municipality of Barueri, State of Sao Paulo. First proposed in 2010, it has has since then received strong civil society opposition but the start of construction has nevertheless been approved by public authorities. [1] 

The incinerator plant is developed by the company Foxx Inova Ambiental, which is pushing forward several Waste-to-Energy projects across Brazil, and comes as part of a public-private partnership signed between the municipality of Barueri and the company. [1] It is planned to burn up to 825 tons of waste per day – the entire waste of Barueri as well as some from neighboring municipalities – and thereby generate electricity of about 17 MW/h, thus more or less covering the energy consumption of 80,000 residents. [1][2][3] While the plant, in the beginning, was supposed to be installed at a former landfill for inert waste in the Jardim Califórnia neighborhood, it is now planned in an industrial area of the Aldeia neighborhood, next to the Tietê river, where it already received a preliminary installation license from Cetesb (São Paulo State Environmental Agency). [1][2] 

The incinerator plans have been fiercely opposed by the wastepicker movement, residents of Barueri and other civil society organizations. Incineration is criticized on the one hand for its adverse impacts on public health and the environment, in particular the generation of toxic ash and emissions. On the other hand, burning waste is problematic from a socio-economic perspective as it disincentives recycling and drives resource use. It thus directly threatens the livelihoods of wastepickers – in Brazil often working in informality or organized in cooperatives – as their incomes strongly depend on access to recyclable material. That clearly contradicts with Brazil’s 2010 adopted National Solid Waste Policy, which provides for incineration only as a means of last resort, while municipalities were encouraged to rather support the recycling sector and promote the inclusion of wastepicker cooperatives in their waste management plans. [4][5] The concerns that the incinerator would particularly put wastepicker livelihoods at risk is also shared by waste experts such as Sylmara Dias, who pointed out that incinerators need primarily solid waste (which is the most recyclable and accounts for 40 % of all produced waste) and have to operate for 24 hours per day in order to be economically viable, which would automatically jeopardize recycling work. As there is already wide skepticism in the public image, incinerators would now become called  “energy recovery units” and promise to prevent any harmful pollution with filters, while in reality there is a clear risk that toxic particles and carcinogenic gases get released. [1][6] 

In 2012 and 2013, street demonstrations against the incineration project took place and wastepicker groups, as well as local residents, participated in public hearings. [1][4][5] Thousands of signatures against the incinerator were collected and information brochures distributed, explaining the adverse effects of incineration on public health. [4] At a public forum on waste solutions held in Barueri in 2013, the representative of Foxx URE and the mayor of Barueri were booed by the audience, after they had stated that residents who positioned themselves against the project were just manipulated by unions. [4] Despite that, the project was not reconsidered and its various benefits for the population were continued to be promised while also street demonstrations continued to take place in 2014. [1][7] 

Project developers claim that the applied waste-to-energy technology was already widely used in Northern Europe and would not come with any harm to the environment and public health; moreover it would be optimal for densely populated metropolitan areas such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, whereas they claim - recycling and landfill capacities have been reached. [1][2] However, also the incinerator would generate ash - and a landfill for its final deposit still has to be found. [1] 

The start of construction works was first announced for 2017 and then for 2018 and expected to last between two and two and a half years. [1][2] In 2018, Foxx sold 51% of its shares to the company China Jinjiang Environment, who announced that the "group will uphold high-quality standards and efficiency levels, in order to make the Barueri project a landmark project in Brazil and Latin America, kickstart the development of the local WTE industry, raise local standards of sustainable development, and pave the way for the group's success in Brazil and Latin America" [8]. As it was moreover communicated, parts of the fund for the incinerator would be provided by a World Bank fund. [9] As of 2019, the construction works were still awaiting the final approval of Cetesb but the plant was expected to be realized by 2021. [3]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Incinerator of urban solid waste in Barueri, São Paulo, Brazil
Country:Brazil
State or province:São Paulo
Location of conflict:Barueri
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Incinerators
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Electricity
Recycled Metals

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The concession for building the incineration plant was obtained by the company Foxx, today called Fox-Haztec, who as part of the public-private partnership invests between $R 300 and 400 million in the construction and will control the plant for the first 30 years. It will burn almost all household waste of Barueri, which has so-far been transferred to a sanitary landfill in the neighboring municipality of Santana de Parnaíba (while only 3% got recycled), as well as some waste from Carapicuíba and Santana de Parnaíba itself, and thereby produce electricity for about 80,000 residents – a so-called Waste-to-Energy (WtE) process. As the project developers claim, the “Unidade de Recuperação Energética” (Energy Recovery Plant) plant uses technology already well-established in countries like Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. This would include the use of filters to prevent the release of toxic particles and a transparent monitoring system of the plant’s emissions. [1][2][3][4]

In 2018, Foxx, which merged with the company Haztec in 2013, became a subsidiary of China Jianjiang Environment, who bought 51 % of the share capital. It was announced that investments of about 62 million Reais into the incinerator would come from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group. [9][10]

Level of Investment:14,477,524.00 USD
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Foxx Haztec (Foxx) from Brazil - Has 30 years concession for incinerator
China Jinjiang Environment Holding Company (China Jinjiang Environment) from China - Controls Foxx, provides parts of the funds
Relevant government actors:Conselho Estadual do Meio Ambiente (Consema)
Companhia Ambiental do Estado de São Paulo (Cetesb)
Secretaria de Meio Ambiente (Sema)
International and Finance InstitutionsInternational Finance Corporation (IFC) - provides funds
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Movimento Anti-Incineração de Lixo Barueri
Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis (MNCR)
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
Resident groups of Barueri

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Wastepickers, recyclers
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights

Outcome

Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Strengthen recycling sector and selective waste collection.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:As it currently stands, the incinerator will be operating soon. Objections by wastepickers groups and the local population have not been heard.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[10] Apsis (2013): Foxx e Haztec fecham fusão. 14.02.3013. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
https://www.apsis.com.br/blog/noticias/foxx-e-haztec-fecham-fusao/

[2] Blume, J. (2017): Primeira unidade de queima de lixo para energia será construída em 2017 em SP. Hypescience, 06.01.2017. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
https://hypescience.com/primeira-unidade-de-queima-de-lixo-para-energia-sera-construida-em-2017-em-sp/

[3] Jornal de Barueri (2018): URE Barueri aguarda emissão de alvará de construção para início das obras. 03.05.2019. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
http://www.jornaldebarueri.com.br/ure-barueri-aguarda-emissao-de-alvara-de-construcao-para-inicio-das-obras/

[1] Rossetti, C. (2018): Barueri terá usina de incineração de lixo na Aldeia. Barueri na Rede, 31.08.2018. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
https://www.baruerinarede.com.br/barueri-tera-usina-de-incineracao-de-lixo-na-aldeia/

[4] MNCR (2013): Moradores de Barueri protestam contra construção de incinerador de lixo. 15.07.2013. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
http://www.mncr.org.br/noticias/blog-sudeste/moradores-de-barueri-protestam-contra-construcao-de-incinerador-de-lixo

[9] MacauHub (2018): China Jinjiang Environment takes control of Brazil’s Foxx URE-BA Ambiental. 23.04.2018. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
https://macauhub.com.mo/2018/04/23/pt-china-jinjiang-environment-assume-controlo-da-brasileira-foxx-ure-ba-ambiental/

[7] Manifesto Residúo Zero (2014): Resistência popular em Barueri contra a Foxx e a incineração. 15.01.2014. (Online, last accessed 20.12.2019)
https://manifesto.residuozero.org.br/2014/01/resistencia-popular-em-barueri-contra-a-foxx-e-a-incineracao/

[8] Soh, A. 82018): China Jinjiang Environment makes foray into Brazil; Q1 earnings drop 21%. The Business Times, 22.04.2018.
https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/china-jinjiang-environment-makes-foray-into-brazil-q1-earnings-drop-21

Meta information

Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update10/02/2020

Images

 

"No to incineration - away with Foxx"

(incineradornao.net)

The plant incinerator in Barueri

(Foxx Inova Ambiental)

Street protests in 2014

(incineradornao.net)

A public protest against incineration in Barueri

(incineradornao.net)

The neighborhood Aldeia in Barueri declared resistance to the incineration project

(incineradornao.net)

Street protests in 2013

(Cacá Produções )

Protests against Foxx in 2014

(incineradornao.net)

Call for a demonstration march in 2013

(MNCR)

Residents protesting against the incineration plant

(incineradornao.net)

Protests during a public hearing in Barueri

(MNCR)

"No to incineration - away with Foxx"

(incineradornao.net)

The planned incinerator in Barueri

(Foxx Inova Ambiental)

Street protests in 2014

(incineradornao.net)

A public protest against incineration in Barueri

(incineradornao.net)

The neighborhood Aldeia in Barueri declared resistance to the incineration project

(incineradornao.net)

Street protests in 2013

(Cacá Produções )

Protests against Foxx in 2014

(incineradornao.net)

Call for a demonstration march in 2013

(MNCR)

Residents protesting against the incineration plant

(incineradornao.net)

Protests during a public hearing in Barueri

(MNCR)