Recycling Around the World A-Z: Venezuela

Recycling Around the World A to Z

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Venezuela

Though Venezuela is a comparatively poor country, it is rich in natural resources, and it is becoming more industrialised. But one of the consequences of industrialisation is that the country is producing ever increasing amounts of waste. From industrial waste, to the waste produced by consumers, simply because they have more money to spend, it’s causing environmental and health problems. The authorities have realised that recycling is the best way to deal with the increasing amounts of waste, but how can recycling be encouraged?

How the authorities have encouraged recycling

The government has used education programmes to teach people about the importance of recycling to preserve resources and protect the planet. Financial incentives have been used too, and deposit reward schemes are in operation in many areas. There is also increasing regulation on the disposal of certain items.

Recycling successes

One of Venezuela’s biggest recycling successes is MANORCA, which is one of the country’s most modern recycling sites, located in the city of Guacara.

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Solving the waste problem

Waste used to be a huge problem in the city, and the waste disposal method of choice for many people were open garbage pits. Poor people would go to the pits and try to salvage materials to sell to often unscrupulous traders, who would only pay them rock bottom prices. Many such traders controlled the local drug trade, and opposed the opening of the new recycling site, as they knew that they would lose out.

Add to this that the fact that the country is very rich in natural resources, such as steel, gold, and aluminium, and the issue of the mining involved, which added to the impact on the environment. Waste from these industries would just be disposed of, untreated, in one of the garbage pits.

But within just a year of the opening of the $15 million plant, the waste problem has improved drastically. 600,000 people live in far more sanitary and safe conditions, and 60 new jobs have been created at the plant.


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The positive impact

Recycling more has reduced the impact on the environment. The less waste that is produced, the more resources are being preserved, and there is less pollution. This also has a positive knock- on effect on people’s health.

The recycling plant has created new jobs and has taken many people away from having to resort to climbing over garbage in the pits to find things to sell. Many workers have formed cooperatives so they have more freedom at work, and even organise the collection of waste themselves, using their own vehicles.

Future developments

The new recycling plant can only be used for solid waste processing at the moment, but in the next few years, there are plans to add a department that will be able to process toxic materials.

There are plans to focus more on waste prevention too. Workers from the plant will distribute waste prevention information to local communities. They will also go into schools.

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Financial investment in waste management

The country has already received financial support to help them implement new waste management systems, to the tune of $140 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The money will be used to provide infrastructure for the correct transfer and disposal of solid waste, and to gradually replace the open-air garbage dumps. It is hoped that within 5 years, the 1100 tonnes of waste currently disposed of in rubbish dumps will be deposited in regulated sanitary landfills instead. It is estimated that this will boost recycling rates by 20%.

Ingenuity with recycling old cars

The country has come up with an ingenious way to recycle abandoned cars and motorcycles. They are being used as raw materials to build houses.

To date, 10,485 cars, 9,651 motorbikes, and 539 bicycles have been sent to the national steel industry for processing. This clears the streets of junk and also provides the materials to build affordable housing for people on low incomes. The scheme is also a welcome boost for the country’s struggling steel industry. 

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