Situated to the North of Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho is the largest landfill site in the world. It is home to the catadores, or rubbish pickers, who remove around 200 tonnes of recyclable material each day.
Far from being a community at the edge of existence, the catadores formed a co-operative - the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG) - to secure welfare for workers and their families.
In 1995, their contribution to extending the life of the landfill was finally recognised and their work became licensed and formalised to include basic health and safety standards.
Waste Land is a documentary, filmed over three years, that follows the collaboration of Brazilian born New York artist, Vik Muniz, with the catadores. Profits from the artwork sales and the documentary's film festival awards have been shared amongst the catadores through the ACAMJG.
It is still possible to contribute to the ACAMJG, which is currently securing a future for the catadores when Jardim Gramacho closes in 2012. One option is to develop a sustainable recycling system in Brazil that employs the catadores as consultants.Talk about people power!
You can buy a copy of Waste Land on DVD or request a special screening for your community. We recommend you do both - the inspiration of Vik Muniz and the catadores has totally blown us away!