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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Environmental assessment of waste handling in rural Brazil: Improvements towards circular economy

de Morais Lima, Priscila; de Morais, Mariane Franca; Constantino, Michel Angelo; Paulo, Paula Loureiro; Corrêa Magralhães Filho, Fernando Jorge


Rural areas are often neglected with respect to solid waste management, and if some kind of management is in place it is often inadequate, causing harm to the rural population and environment, especially when open burning and dumping are practiced. These practices are performed in rural areas/isolated communities worldwide. In today's scenario, any actions taken by cities generally do not focus on implementing a circular economy, that is, closing the loops and resource recovery, which are important to increase the quality of life of rural populations. In this sense, this study aimed to assess the environmental impacts of the current waste handling scenario of Quilombola communities located in the rural areas of west-central Brazil to shed light on this issue and provide means to decision-makers to act appropriately. Life cycle assessment was employed for a “current” (combination of waste burning and landfilling) and a “proposed” (source separation and home composting) scenario with 1 ton of municipal solid waste as the functional unit and the ILCD recommended method for impact assessment. The results showed that the current scenario registered environmental burdens for all impact categories assessed, such as 415 kg CO2 eq. for climate change and 37,174 CTUe for freshwater eutrophication, while in the proposed scenario, the impacts were reduced in all categories. Based on these results, we concluded that the studied population was exposed to several different impacts, especially due to waste burning, which represented 98.8% of emissions to climate change, and that the proposed scenario poses an alternative conducive to a shift towards circular economy and sustainable development concepts. Our study provides important data regarding necessary improvements to current waste handling practices to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the quality of life of the rural population, which will help decision-makers take appropriate actions.


life cycle assessment; Quilombolas; solid waste; management; open burning

Published in

Cleaner Environmental Systems
2021, volume: 2, article number: 100013

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Dom Bosco Catholic University
de Morais, Mariane Franca
Dom Bosco Catholic University
Constantino, Michel Angelo
Dom Bosco Catholic University
Paulo, Paula Loureiro
Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul
Corrêa Magralhães Filho, Fernando Jorge
Dom Bosco Catholic University

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Management

Publication Identifiers


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