The Appalachian Energy Center is involved in a pilot project in Maracanau, Ceara, Brazil which will improve the lives of local "catadores" or waste pickers. Staff from the Energy Center just returned from Brazil, plans are now complete and construction is set to begin as soon as the funds are secured. The project, which was begun with funding from the Global Methane Initiative, will create an Energy Park adjacent to the local landfill where landfill methane gas, created by decomposing organic matter in the waste, will be used to process plastic and glass gleaned from the waste stream by the catadores, providing more profit for these workers.
By the end of 2014, the catadores hope to intercept most of these recyclables at the source instead of digging through the garbage at the landfill. Better jobs, new businesses, and improved living and working conditions will be the result. Partners on the project include the catadores cooperative, a Brazilian NGO, the Municipality of Maracanau, and state and federal agencies in Brazil, as well as the ASU Energy Center.