Opinion: Mara Gama – Composting is at risk with housing project in Lapa

#not1dayswithoutcomposting. Last month, a group of activists went to the Lapa Composting Yard on Friday mornings to defend the continuity of the environmental operation. There, compost is made — an organic fertilizer — with a mixture of leftovers from open markets and pruning of trees in public areas, in a windrow system. It’s a pioneer project, from 2015, cheap, sustainable, which became a reference as public policy in São Paulo, has multiplied and is at risk.

After him, São Paulo opened four more composting yards. The five together can receive up to three thousand tons of waste per year. From January to March 2021, they processed 2,800 tonnes of waste from 180 fairs. The resulting compost is used in gardens and donated to family farmers. Composting in a place close to the generation of waste reduces the displacement of trucks and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions.

Composting advocacy groups fear that activity in Lapa, which is part of the city’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan and diverts tons of organic waste from the landfill route, will be interrupted due to a housing project that will be implemented in the place where the patio works.

There is no position against works for popular housing. What is wanted is for an important initiative like this not to be interrupted.

The weekly meetings and the mobilization serve to maintain pressure on the municipal bodies so that the Lapa compost only leaves the yard when there is another place ready to operate and receive the same amount or more of organic waste from fairs and park maintenance and gardens.

For that, a new yard has to be built, with an underground liquid capture system and environmental licensing in accordance with, the fair collection routes have to be redone and the administration of the new place prepared. To warn that it takes time to achieve all this and that the risk of interruption is real, the motto of the mobilization is: “Not 1 day without composting”.

In mid-August, members of the Municipal Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CADES) realized that part of the public services installed in that area were moving from there. In search of information at the Lapa sub-prefecture, they were informed that there was a Public Private Housing Partnership to build affordable housing in the area. “What surprised us is that there is still no new area for composting”, says Alexandra Swerts, who is part of CADES. “The issue is not environment versus housing, but composting cannot stop,” he says.

“The situation is the same as in Horta das Flores”, says Alexandra. Horta das Flores, at Praça Alfredo DiCunto, in the Mooca neighborhood, was installed over 16 years ago and was part of the Urban and Periurban Agriculture Program of the city of São Paulo. As of 2015, a group of residents adopted the place, organizing an orchid nursery, nursery and maintenance through joint efforts. In 2019, the City Hall signed a PPP contract for the construction of affordable housing on site. The collective that takes care of the vegetable garden questions the choice and asks, in a petition, that the community vegetable garden remain in the space.

“Lapa’s composting yard consolidates a well-executed public policy, which dates back to 2015, when the pilot project was taken over and multiplied. When a PPP was thought of, a plan should have already been drawn up and the execution of a new one started. place for the compost changeover,” says Alexandra. “Composting saves landfill, fuel and avoids the generation of methane gas. The environmental gain is high,” he says.

In a note sent to the column by the City Hall press office, the Metropolitan Housing Company of São Paulo (Cohab-SP) states that the area is part of Lot 9 of the Housing PPP and that it will benefit 1,120 families in the West region, with investment of R$223.4 million.

The note also says that there is a possibility of implementing health clinics, schools and businesses and that there was popular participation through the open public consultation in 2018. About the Composting Yard in Lapa, it says that the municipality is evaluating areas close to the current equipment for the maintenance of the service in the region. “The Municipal Housing PPP is an alternative to reduce the housing deficit in the city of São Paulo”, says the note.

According to Alexandra, there is a meeting scheduled for the 20th to assess places to install a new patio. The Observatório da Vila Leopoldina group published on its Facebook page that the Subprefeitura Lapa is clearing a public land in Vila Jaguara, which could be used to relocate the yard. The group launched a podcast about the campaign. against the interruption of composting:

“Cohab has pledged not to remove the yard before transferring it to another place. We, as an organized civil society, want the Yard in Lapa, but the Yard is bigger than Lapa. What we want is not to run out of compost,” says Alexandra. “And we need to keep the government on track.”

Consultant in solid waste management and circular economy for companies and municipalities, the technical advisor and coordinator of the campaign SP Compost and Cultivation Victor Argentino is also concerned about the risk of discontinuity. “It is necessary to have an exit plan so that the fairs do not run out of compost. And the PPP construction company would have to bear the costs of these works”, he says.

“The problem is not technical at all. It’s political. It would be possible to leave the compost area and make the housing, as well as it would be feasible to send this housing project to other areas. There are housing areas demarcated for housing that have no projects”, claims.

“We think that the proposal goes against what was approved in the Targets Program and what PGIRS (Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan) says. We want the city not to regress”, he says. The PGIRS determines that most of the organic waste in the city of São Paulo be treated in domestic or condominium composting, that there must be encouragement of community initiatives and composting businesses and the implementation of composting units, among other measures
“We don’t want the city to recede,” says Victor. “We are also concerned that Amlurb, which took care of waste management, is being dismantled and will become São Paulo Regula. The technical staff of SP Regula has contract analysts. It will not have technicians with the capacity to discuss public policy or specialists in waste,” he says. The Municipal Urban Cleaning Authority (Amlurb) was extinguished in July by the municipal administrative reform.

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