Journal of Undergraduate Research


trash and contemporary Brazil, modernization, consumption, Brazil's megacities




Spanish and Portuguese


Over the past 50 years the growing difference between trash collection capacity and consumption has produced new cultural developments concerning the collection, reuse, and criminalization of trash in Brazil. The thin legal framework that surrounds lixões [pronounced li-¢òõẽs] (open air garbage dumps) in Brazil has, in many ways, resulted in the rise of public trash and recycling collection in lixões that can be found in Brazilian megacities. According to my research, few statutes in either Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo exist to govern the treatment of trash collection by marginalized populations living near or on lixões. What laws that do exist are more recent, occurring within the last twenty years, and these have been bi-polar in their consideration of catadores (the marginalized individuals who live in lixões), treating them both as undervalued citizens who require reintegration, as well as illegal workers (current federal law treats them as both). Despite these legal discrepancies, the implementation of these laws has been very slow, perpetuating the rise of a marginalized society, now the subject of several major documentaries and films over the last 20 years.