Sorting the World Cup's Trash


Brasília (AFP) - World Cup tickets can cost hundreds of dollars, but Alex Pereira is paid to go to matches -- and he doesn't mind that he spends the game sorting through other people's garbage.

Pereira is one of hundreds of "catadores," or , recruited to go through the five tons of rubbish generated by every game, separating out anything that can be reused or recycled.

Hundreds of thousands of people scrape out a living picking through garbage in Brazil, which has few public recycling programs.

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In a first for the World Cup, 850 of them have been recruited and trained to work in Brazil's 12 host stadiums, sending the materials they collect to 300 trash pickers' cooperatives for sorting.

"The sensation of being in the stadium for the World Cup is fantastic," Pereira, 38, told AFP.

"We don't get to see the games because we're working, but for us it's huge to be hired to work at a major event like this."

FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola is paying the catadores 80 reals ($35) a day, plus a meal allowance of 25 reals ($11).

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Outside the stadiums, many trash-pickers work freelance, with no contract or regular income.

On a recent game day, Edilson Alves de Souza wove his shopping cart through the crowd of 68,000 fans leaving Brasilia's Mane Garrincha National Stadium, looking for empty bottles and cans.

"The World Cup is good business," he said with a grin.

Teresinha de Jesus Silva, who was crushing empty cans with a stone nearby, was less upbeat.

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The job is "not enough to survive on," said the 68-year-old, her eyes cloudy with cataracts.

Silent Army

Cans are the main recyclable item left by fans.

Brazil leads the world in can recycling, saving 98 percent of all cans from the landfill -- far above the European average of 67 percent, according to the Brazilian Can Manufacturers' Association.

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