Catalyzing Investment in Urban Sustainability
U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on
Urban Sustainability


Brazilian National Solid Waste Policy

Policy Overview

In 2010, Brazil finalized its National Solid Waste Policy, a cross-cutting law that aims to decrease the total volume of waste produced nationally and increase the sustainability of solid waste management from the local level to the national level. Public, domestic, industrial, mining, agroforestry, transportation facility, construction, and health waste are all covered by this policy, and much of the responsibility for paying for or providing management of waste falls to its producers. Reverse logistics, based on the 'polluter pays' principle, provides a central component of the law, especially as it applies to (a) pesticides, hazardous waste, and associated packaging; (b) batteries; (c) tires; (d) lubricating oils and their packaging; (e) fluorescent bulbs, sodium and mercury vapor bulbs, and mixed-light bulbs; and (f) electronic products and components. The law outlines a variety of options for producers to work together within their sectors, with reverse logistics service providers, and with municipal and state governments to manage waste flows and to recapture, recycle, and ultimately dispose of these materials.

How to Apply this Policy

The National Solid Waste Policy covers a variety of public and private actors in many sectors, but both cities and businesses benefit from developing waste management plans and forming consortiums. Public-private partnerships play an important role in improving recycling availability and rates, managing the reverse logistics stream, and ensuring social inclusion. The law also makes special provisions for accommodating waste pickers, who have traditionally played a central role in the waste sorting and disposal system in Brazil. Community outreach and retraining are part of efforts to shift to more municipal solid waste landfills. Opportunities for new technologies or increased deployment of technology include used electronics recovery, compactors, organic waste digesters and composting, and organic packaging. The federal government has also outlined grant and assistance programs to local governments to help improve recycling and training, including social inclusion programs for waste picking communities. The national law also calls on states, regions, and municipalities to elaborate on local strategies for implementing this national plan. Waste reduction, better management, and better disposal all form major components of this policy.

Contact Information
Silvano Silvério da Costa 
Director of Solid Waste, Ministry of Environment 

While the law has not yet gone into full effect, many cities in Brazil have made significant progress on waste management in recent years. Rio de Janeiro has improved its landfills and its recycling rates-the City's municipal waste corporation, COMLURB, has worked through a public-private partnership to install a methane capture system in the well-known Gramacho Landfill and produce energy from waste. Cities such as São Paulo and Curitiba have increased recycling rates and practices, and their laws helped pave the way for the national mandate.