Reuters

One of the world's largest open-air landfills will be shuttered. What does that mean for the 1,700 people who worked there?

It's been a seaside eyesore and a source of income for thousands. But after 34 years of service, one of the world's largest open-air landfills will be shuttered.

Rio de Janeiro's Jardim Gramacho will close in advance of the United Nations sustainable development summit in the city. Built in 1978, it has functioned for nearly 20 years with little oversight. The Associated Press calls the vast, malodorous dump a "symbol of ill-conceived urban planning and environmental negligence."

Environmentalists blamed Gramacho for high levels of pollution in Guanabara Bay. But 1,700 depended on the spot for their income, picking through the trash to find recyclables. Here's how one describes it to the AP:

"When you first get here, you're like, 'Ick, I don't know if I can do this,' but then you get used to it and you make friends and you find it's good work," said Lorival Francisco dos Santos, a 46-year-old from Brazil's impoverished northeast who spent 13 years at the landfill.

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Maps

    How Climate Change Will Affect Animal Migration, in One Map

    Global warming over the next century means that species will move to cooler climates, but manmade barriers often stand in the way.

  2. LA Weekly
    Life

    What Happened to 'LA Weekly'?

    Last week, the city’s award-winning alternative newspaper was purchased by a shadowy entity. Immediately, most of the staff was fired. Then things got weird.

  3. Equity

    Hard Lessons From Chicago’s Public Housing Reform

    Two decades ago, the city embarked on an ambitious—and controversial—plan to transform its troubled public housing system, uprooting thousands of low-income residents. Today, researcher Susan Popkin reflects on what worked—and what failed.

  4. A "For Rent" sign is posted outside a small apartment complex in Carlsbad, California
    Equity

    The Technology That Aims to Disrupt the Security Deposit

    Rentberry, an online rental marketplace, wants tenants to pay security fees in cryptocurrency and have micro-lenders cover most of the deposit. What could go wrong?

  5. Equity

    One Nation, Under the Weight of Crushing Debt

    An interactive map shows where the highest concentrations of households with unpaid bills are.