Investment Opportunities in Brazil

Recycling is on the rise in the Federative Republic of Brazil, Latin America‘s largest country.

According to a new study by ABRELPE (the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies), recycling has increased by around 7.2 percentage points. “In 2010, only 57.6 percent of the towns had some recycling or separate collection initiatives”, The Rio Times reported in July 2015. “In 2014, this number was already at 64.8 percent.” One of the main findings of this survey was the increase in waste production. Between 2003 and 2014 the waste generation has grown by 29 percent and amounted to 78.6 million tons, while the number of inhabitants grew by six percent during this period to an estimated population of about 203.6 million (2015), up from the 2008 population of 190 million. Every Brazilian inhabitant created 1.062 kilogram of waste per day, the survey revealed.

As ABRELPE found out, in 2014, more than 41 percent of solid waste generated in the country were deposited in dumpsites and unregulated landfills. As reported, in 2013 the percentage of not adequately treated waste had been at 41.7 percent. “This means that more than 78 million Brazilians, or 38.5 percent of the country’s population, don’t have access to adequate waste treatment services and can dump their waste in facilities deemed safe,” underlined. “Furthermore, more than twenty million people don’t have a regular garbage collection nearby.”

Waste Management in Brazil

The last wide research in Brazil on the management of waste was made in 2008 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the Brazilian online portal “The Brazil Business” gave account. According to the survey of that year, 99.96 percent of the Brazilian municipalities (about 5,570), somehow, had a waste management plan. More than half disposed their junk in open areas without proper precautions; these areas are known as lixões. According to the information, also, less than 12 percent of the cities in Brazil had establishments that sorted recyclable litter from organic waste. And only 0.61 percent of all Brazilian municipalities had a place to implement composting of organic waste. In 2010, the Federative Republic of Brazil launched the National Solid Waste Policy (law 12,305). “The division of responsibilities between consumers, sellers, distributors, importers, manufacturers, and government is one of the main achievements,” the Brazilian online portal reported.

The portal listed other important points:
■    Reverse logistics, one of the most controversial. All sectors believe it is crucial to collect used products and materials that can be repurposed. The problem is that, they have not come to an agreement on who should pay the bill.
■    Selective collection of litter and materials, or recycling, which is growing, but needs to be widely expanded.
■    Information System about solid waste management, known as SINIR, serves as a database for this subject.
■    Other concrete goals to make the Brazilian management of solid waste better.

Since 2011, a commission formed by the federal government has the objective to implement a policy for the return of used packaging to industries and companies, in order to reutilize them in new manufacturing processes. The commission is composed of the Ministries of Environment, Health, Agriculture, and Industry. Other subgroups are responsible for different chains in the reverse logistics process, divided into five main categories (medications; lubricants and its residuals; lamps; electronics; packaging in general). “Each group is responsible for creating goals and action plans in order to establish an efficient program,” informed “The Brazilian Business”. Four years after the publication of Brazilian law 12,305, “we can observe a slow movement,” stated Christiane Pereira, CReED do Brasil – Center for Research, Education and Demonstration in Waste management, Jundial (Brazil), in the conference transcript of  the “Waste-to-Resources 2015” congress in Hannover (Germany). “Slow does not mean small when we consider the giant waste market that Brazil represents, expecting for 2016 around 15 billion Euro turn over in waste management where 80 percent is done by private sector,” she wrote.

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The Brazilian Market

In the wake of Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy, investment in solid waste treatment technologies and waste-to-energy projects in sanitary and hazardous landfills are expanding significantly, the U.S.-based International Trade Administration (ITA) stated in its special interest report last year. According to the information, the Brazilian government planned to invest 870 million US-Dollar in treatment projects, replacement of landfills, introduction of selective waste collection services, and financing cooperatives of waste collectors. Municipal waste management services, in 2015, were valued at ten billion US-Dollar annually with the expectation that the market would be worth 22 billion US-Dollar annually by 2016. The Brazilian government estimated that the income from recycling activities could increase from 1.1 billion US-Dollar to 4.7 billion US-Dollar annually, the ITA analysis underlined.

As reported, there are following technologies and services in demand:
■    Waste collection technologies
■    Sanitary landfill systems
■    Environmental monitoring and analytical equipment
■    Sorting machines
■    Crushing and grinding machines
■    Materials handling equipment
■    Collection services, containers, and vehicles
■    Recycling process expertise
■    Waste incinerators


There are hopes that Brazil’s renewed government funding, Congress-backed incentives, and expanding power grid will speed up the development of waste-to-energy projects in Brazil, adding to 16 GW planned renewable energy capacity before 2018. Actual waste-to-energy project developments and technologies that will be used and how these projects are going to be funded, regulated and incentivized would be discussed during the Waste-to-Energy Brasil 2016 Conference in July 2016, the organizer of this event, Arc Media Global, had announced. In a move to expedite projects to expand power generation and transmission in Brazil, the federal government has launched a program in August 2015, called the Electricity Investment Program (PIEE in the Portuguese-language acronym). According to news agency Empresa Brasil de Comunicação, it will target 53.28 billion US-Dollar to energy projects. By expanding the country‘s energy supply, the government is looking to increase competitiveness in the sector as a strategy to reduce the cost of energy in the country. In the new plan, the government will seek to provide, through tenders, about 33 billion US-Dollar for energy generation and 20 billion US-Dollar for transmission lines. With two phases of investment set to happen before and after 2018, the ultimate goal of the PIEE is to add between 25,000 and 31,500 MW to the Brazilian grid.

The Brazilian Investment Information Network (RENAI) provides entrepreneurs with investment opportunities in Brazil. It is supported by the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC) and is networked with state Departments of Industry and Trade as well as entrepreneurial trade associations. The network aims to provide the necessary information investors need in their business decision-making process, to promote and facilitate the investment process, to stimulate and aid federal and state departments to support foreign investments. To reach its goals, RENAI´s team works on the systematic survey of announced investment projects and makes them available at an online databank. It contains detailed information separated by economic sector, company, state and amount of money invested. That report is released only in Portuguese.

More information To learn more about RENAI, please visit the website at

Additional information: “Brazilian Official Guide on Investment Opportunities” in English (updated until June/2014, with examples for tenders under the rubric “sanitation and waste”)

Tough Economic Situation

The Brazilian economy was hit by a recession in 2015. The prediction for 2015 and 2016 turned out badly and according to the opinion of experts no specific growth impulses should be expected for 2017 as well. However, the economic slowdown affects almost all branches. At the beginning of this year, it was said that machine engineering and automotive industry were the ones who were worst affected.  It strongly depends on further political development whether a quick recovery of the overall economy is possible. The area of environment, waste and water economy is still neglected according to expert opinion. Even if the dryness in the south west has indeed enabled some “ad hoc projects” regarding water economy, many projects concerning waste water treatment are stagnating. Only companies who are taking a long view, depending on the exchange rate or who are exporting much, are investing in the industry. The most of it is going to be postponed.

The Brazilian Innovation Agency

In Brazil, due to lack of organization and/or financial resources, activities such as collection, transportation, processing, treatment, and disposal, which were at the responsibility of municipalities, are being outsourced to private companies, in an attempt to soothe public budget constraints and enhance the quality of the services. Due to the low economic feasibility of the current technologies in the country, the Brazilian Innovation Agency (Finep) has sought to assist companies in promoting innovations in solid waste management, either by backing low-interest loans or granting economic subvention for the acquisition of goods, services and labor. The results were encouraging, representatives of the Brazilian Innovation Agency, Department of Energy and Green Technologies in Rio de Janeiro, informed at the “Waste-to-Resources 2015” congress in Hannover (Germany). In their opinion, the main challenges for the next years lie in making several technological routes for waste treatment and recovery economically feasible in Brazil and in developing a highly qualified staff, capable of making rational decisions regarding the best treatment/disposal solutions for each facility‘s needs and each waste stream. To that end, the participation of public funding agencies will remain important, Finep representatives Erick Meira de Oliveira and Diego de Carvalho Frade are convinced.

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