Ocean plastic recovery project involving Brazilian fishers enters second phase

After a successful trial, the second phase of our project in partnership with Italian social enterprise, Ogyre, to manage the removal of solid waste from Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, by local fishers, is now underway.

The project will see the team of fishers removing an estimated 100 tons of plastic waste from the bay in their traditional fishing boats, over the next 12 months. The ‘catch’ is being registered and monitored through BVRio’s KOLEKT app, as part of the app’s field trials. The app uses images and GPS in order to verify the inputs of both the seller, the fishers, and the buyer, in this case, the waste cooperative Cooperecológica. The app’s web-based dashboard is used to track and administer all transactions.

In the first phase of the project, run between December 2021 and March 2022, collecting plastics from the sea provided each fisher on Ilha do Governador, an Island off the coast off Rio de Janeiro an additional wage. This additional income will now continue, as Ogyre has renewed the partnership with BVRio to continue the project in the region. This new phase will directly benefit some 25 families of local fishers with an even more ambitious target to remove 100 tons of waste over the next 12 months. Collection resumed on April 6.

The second phase of the project has been significantly scaled up, and estimates to collect twice as many materials per day as was achieved in the first phase. From the previous daring goal of 800 kilos per week, the target now is to collect 2 tons per week, totalling 100 tons of waste removed from the sea, rivers and mangroves in one years time. Overall, the efforts of the previous phase accounted for more than 12 tons of waste removed from the sea and mangroves in its three months of operations.

Beyond the environmental impact, the initiative provides social impact, offering fair remuneration to the local community. In the first phase, the ‘fishing for litter’ job was undertaken by 10 fishers from two fishing village associations, Bancários and Z-10, in addition to the involvement of two coordinators and a community leader, generating income for 25 families. Twenty-four daily rates of R$300 were paid to each pair of fishers, the equivalent of almost double the daily minimum wage in Brazil, a direct investment to the fishing villages totalling R$72,000.00. A bonus was also awarded at the end of the project to the pair of fishers who collected the most waste.

In the first phase, 12 tons of plastic was removed from the ocean. The material which was suitable for recycling was sold to a local waste picker cooperative through BVRio’s app KOLEKT, while the unrecyclable material was responsibly destined to Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Landfill in Seropédica.

Pedro Succar, BVRio’s circular economy specialist said, “We are very pleased with the continuity of the project, as we understand that initiatives like this one, to clean up Guanabara Bay, can serve as an inspiration to replicate and implement this model in other regions.”

Andrea Faldella, Ogyre co-founder, confirmed “Giving continuity to the project is key for both the local community of fisherman and the Guanabara Bay environment. The partnership with BVRio will be long lasting and will be extended to other locations, in Brazil and abroad”