Although recycling is considered the core of a circular economy for returning materials to the supply chain, its procedures are poorly understood. Waste recycling is considered a big source of energy saving and a promoter of CO2
recovery. Besides that, it generates jobs and changes markets worldwide. The Brasilian National Policy on Solid Waste (PNRS) recognizes Waste Pickers as the major social agent in the recycling process responsible for putting Brasil among the ten largest paper-recycling countries in the world. This paper presents an analysis of Brasilian recycling chains of paper and plastics and the main challenges for expanding recycling from Municipal solid waste. The research data were obtained from primary and secondary source related to the recycling supply chain of paper and of the following plastics—High Density Polyethylene (HDPE),Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene(PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate(PET) and Polystyrene(PS). Enterprises of various sizes, including informal ones and WPs associations/cooperatives, were visited, in the five Brasilian geographic regions, during the years of 2013 and 2014. A nomenclature was defined for the various enterprises that operate in the Brasilian recycling chain. Each node of the plastic and paper recycling chain was described. The main bottleneck observed in these chains is the lack of continuous programs of selective collection with an emphasis on environmental education processes in the 5570 Brasilian municipalities. Several possibilities not only to promote waste recycling but also to increase the productivity of the sorting process are discussed.
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