Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


A pilot to boost the capacity and reach of a waste cooperative in north Rio de Janeiro that increased plastic recovery and recycling rates, and also provided valuable insights for future waste management initiatives.

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From malls and supermarkets to hospitals and condominiums, waste cooperative Coopama has confidently grown its reach and plastic recovery rate in Rio de Janeiro through an Alliance-funded pilot to increase its capacity. More capital has since flowed into the initiative, sustaining its impact.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Circular Action BV


- Plastic waste recycled: 2,809 tonnes
- Net new jobs created (Coopama): 57
- No. with access to upgraded waste collection/recycling: 10,400
- No. of beneficiaries from the AEPW project: 201 waste pickers and 11,600 residents

Trucks Help Rio’s Waste Co-ops Go the Distance

In Maria da Graça in north Rio de Janeiro, waste pickers from the Coopama cooperative, recognisable by their forest green tee-shirts, haul themselves onto collection trucks that fan out towards shopping malls, schools, hospitals, and condominiums in the neighbourhood.

Since Alliance funding allowed for three rental trucks to be added to their existing one in mid-2022, Coopama’s operations have expanded dramatically, with the cooperative doubling the number of its collection points, and collecting four times the amount of recyclables.

Under the BVRio initiative led by Circular Action BV, residential and commercial enterprises that have separated waste available for pick up can post this online via the waste trading app KOLEKT. Once alerted, the cooperative sends a truck to make the collection. The recyclables are then sorted, baled, and sold to aggregators and recyclers, with the proceeds kept by the cooperative.

Brazil is the world’s fourth largest producer of plastic waste, and Rio de Janeiro, its second largest city, generates more than 9 thousand tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Of this, just 0.5% is diverted from landfills. Waste pickers are responsible for 90% of the recovery of recyclables, usually on foot, dragging carts, or on motorbikes.

Besides increasing plastic recovery and recycling rates in the metropolitan region, BVRio aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of those on the lowest rungs of Brazil’s social ladder. With the additional trucks, for instance, Coopama now has the capacity to collect larger volumes of recyclables from sources like condominiums and shopping malls, and to provide this service reliably, something that would be far more difficult for waste pickers on foot.

The increase in waste volumes collected means that the waste pickers cooperative has been able to increase the number of its members by more than 50% to 164, with new jobs created for vulnerable communities, including women.

By June 2023, 2,809 tonnes of plastic waste had been recycled under the BVRio initiative. Based on its environmental and societal impact, the initiative had also demonstrated its ability to attract third-party catalytic investment. State-owned MNC Petrobras will purchase trucks, loading beds, and a forklift for Coopama, providing it with a long-term transportation solution, and ensuring sustained impact.

The early impact project is the Alliance’s second in Brazil.