It has been a couple of years since not a single discarded bottle cap has been found on the streets of São Bernardo, in Messejana, Fortaleza district, Ceará. Everything is clean thanks to the efforts by the people and Enel Brazil, who, thanks to the Ecoenel program, have transformed this area into one of the largest eco-spots in the state, where more than 60,000 kilograms of recyclable material was recollected during 2016 alone.
São Bernardo took control of its future following a large outbreak of Dengue fever in 2007. This health emergency unleashed a radical transformation in the community, which was sensitized in respect to its hygiene practices, taking the option for a better quality of life.
Valdir José Da Costa: the first one to believe in change
Every great movement begins driven by a leader: Valdir was the first one in believing that, together, the residents could change the future of São Bernardo. After a labor accident that forced him to an early retirement, this electrician began to dedicate himself fully to his community, where he has been living for more than thirty years.
Valdir has been in charge of the Asociación de Moradores de São Bernardo (São Bernardo Resident’s Association) for more than 15 years. At the community center, the neighbors participate for free in dance classes, capoeira, drumming and guitar lessons; but there is also room for activities that reinforce the citizen’s ideals in respect to socio-environmental responsibility.
Due to the problem with Dengue fever, Valdir led a campaign towards changing the population’s habits. In that sense, the Association he manages hosted a mobile unit from the Ecoenel program, transforming its community center into a permanent station for the collection of recyclable waste.
This is how a sanitary war began towards freeing the population from this virus. The plan led by Valdir eliminated the breeding sites of the mosquitoes, cleaned the streets and carried out selective waste collection, in such a way as to recycle it.
Ecoenel and its contribution to the community
After some time, the results of Valdir’s project grew beyond street cleaning. In fact, he himself states that the standard of living of the residents improved when the power bills went down thanks to the Ecoenel recycling program: “Many people here, especially women, may even reduce their power bills to zero through the quantity of recyclable materials that they gather. At the end of the month, the impact upon people’s budget is enormous”, he affirms.
Any person may join the initiative, and obtain a discount from their power bills, simply by going to any Ecoenel collection point and submitting the electric power bill in respect to which the discount is requested. Following registration, and subject to the consumer collecting recyclable waste, the materials are to be weighed and the bonus certifying the discount in the next bill will be calculated.
Ever since its creation in 2007, the Ecoenel program has benefitted more than 600,000 customers, granting discounts for R $ 5.2 million while collecting more than 32,000 tons of waste in Ceará and Río de Janeiro. Currently, the Enel Group distributors have more than 200 collection points distributed in 41 cities of both states.