Pindamonhangaba, Brazil

Bringing the circular economy to Pindamonhangaba´s Food System and Waste Management

About Pindamonhangaba, Brazil

Pindamonhangaba is located in the central region of Vale do Paraíba Paulista, eastern region of the State of São Paulo. It is located between the two largest cities in Brazil: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The municipality has the Serra da Mantiqueira to the north and the Serra do Quebra Cangalha to the south, which is next to the Serra do Mar. The main river that passes through the city is the Paraíba do Sul River, from where the waters that supply the entire Municipality are collected, but there are also other important watersheds. With the average annual temperature varying around 22.4 °C and average annual precipitation of 1,436.9 mm, the Municipality has a mild climate and historically part of its territory is located in the Atlantic Forest region. Pindamonhangaba is considered a medium-sized Brazilian municipality, with an estimated population of 171,885, according to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), 2021 data. The city has always been considered an important hub in the industrial sector and has recently been growing in the third sector and in agriculture. Pindamonhangaba was considered the national capital of aluminium recycling, the title was granted by ABAL (Brazilian Aluminium Association) in 2003, in recognition of the importance of the city for the activity. Currently, the hub of Pindamonhangaba brings together companies that process approximately 70% of all aluminium scrap recovered in Brazil. According to data from 2019, from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, the proportion of occupied people (employed) in relation to the total population of the municipality was 21.4%.

Pindamonhangaba's sustainability challenges

  • Lack of environmental awareness

    Transforming Pindamonhangaba into a sustainable and resilient city is one of the biggest challenges for the municipal government, mainly because of the population’s historical lack of awareness and engagement for the subject. Programs and actions related to climate/low carbon actions and the development of resilient cities are considered priorities. On the other hand, programs and actions related to waste management/circular economy and the protection of biodiversity already have work in progress, which can be improved so that they are lasting.

Pindamonhangaba's existing sustainability commitments and targets

The municipal government is engaged and committed to finding ways to transform Pindamonhangaba into a sustainable and resilient city. Currently, it aims to build environmental programs that allow stability and continuity of actions, thus making the themes that will be inserted in citizens’ daily life more palpable to all. Although the city still lacks legislation, plans and technical guidelines to continue the work that has already begun, it has already verified the need for establishing clear goals and indicators that guide the city in this journey.

Pindamonhangaba´s existing circular practices

Public-private partnerships to ensure recycling

A partnership between the Municipality of Pindamonhangaba and the startup “Você Recicla”, which operates the reverse logistics of post-consumer packaging, encouraging recycling, comes to contribute to the promotion of the circular economy and prevent recyclables from ending up in the landfill. The recycling station unites consumer goods companies and the government in efforts to recover waste, helping to solve the problem of domestic waste. In addition, it brings income growth opportunities for professionals who work with recycling and serves as an incentive for consumers to engage with the cause. The project provides that, from the application, the consumer himself locates the nearest recycling box, taking his recyclable solid waste – which must be clean and separated. Once weighed, they are converted into credits that can be exchanged for rewards (cash in account or bonuses), made available in an application or partnerships established with retailers and services.

Financial incentives for promoting ecosystem services

The ”Nature Conservator” Program was launched in Pindamonhangaba, an initiative of municipal management, through the Secretariat of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture, aimed at rural properties in the municipality. The objective of the program is to recognize and support the rural landowner in his/her important role as a provider of environmental services essential to life, maintaining, restoring or improving the environmental conditions of ecosystems. The program, which was approved through Municipal Law nº 6504, intends to benefit landowners qualified by the Program to receive: technical support, service support and financial support related to the payment of environmental services (PSA) to rural landowners who adapt their properties sustainably.

Dedicating publicly-owned land to family agriculture

The Municipality of Pindamonhangaba, through the Social Solidarity Fund, started the “Community Garden” project. The objective is to provide the use of public space so that 30 needy families can daily plant, care for and consume their own production. According to the president of the Social Fund, Cláudia Vieira Domingues, the project has the support of the departments of Environment, Culture and Tourism, Government and Public Services and the Municipality of Moreira César and of several companies that collaborated with donations of seeds, fertilizer and dung. The intention of municipal administration is to expand the project to other regions of the municipality through a social project aimed at food production, healthy eating and community participation in areas close to their homes, promoting social inclusion and food security.

Change of use for the city's sanitary landfill space

The Pindamonhangaba sanitary landfill ended its activities after 34 years of operation. Now, the municipal administration, through the Secretariat of the Environment, is studying the possibilities of using the space. The mayor, Dr. Isael Domingues, wants the elaboration of a proposal for the occupation of the space that meets the regulations of the responsible environmental agency, Cetesb. Several initiatives in different parts of the world are being carried out in this direction, transforming previously degraded landscapes into parks, squares or green spaces.

Incentivizing solid waste recycling

Pindamonhangaba created the PEV, Voluntary Delivery Point, the purpose of the PEV is to be a place for the correct disposal of useless materials, such as construction rubble, pruning remains, furniture and domestic equipment, in addition to batteries, lamps and kitchen, which will be directed to recycling.
The objective is to facilitate the population’s access to the correct disposal of solid waste, aiming to improve public cleaning and give the materials an environmentally appropriate destination. Currently, the municipality has eight units of PEVs, strategically spread throughout the city.