Bajo Flores is one of five sorting centers or ‘green points’ that figure prominently in BA’s Zero Garbage Law plans. We’ll speak in detail about the significance of these centers in a subsequent post, but mention Bajo Flores here because it is where we have been running our weekly theatre workshops and because, in an earlier post, we noted that it was obvious to us that it was not working anywhere near its capacity. We went by yesterday for our normal 3 o’clock Monday rendezvous, and were told that it was canceled because there was simply too much sorting being done. (Normally, the workers who participate in our theatre workshops are let off work early.) I walked into the sorting area and took some photos and videos of a very, very busy workplace.
Bajo Flores was supposed to receive the raw garbage of BA’s 5-star hotels and some of its over-19-story apartment buildings. Two of the five private trucking companies and the single government-run company that are responsible for cleaning the streets and hauling the city’s garbage were charged with bringing the waste to Bajo Flores to be sorted. The cooperative members separate the different types of plastic, the bottles, the carton, the paper, etc. from the other garbage – that is then hauled to the CEAMSE landfill – and sell it to the industries that recycle it into paper and other plastic and glass products. In theory, it’s a good system: the cooperative is responsible for sorting and selling, and it bypasses all of the middlemen that stood between its members and the final destination of the recyclables when they were working informally as cartoneros on the streets. The members share the profits equally, less garbage goes to the landfill, and the plastic and bottles and cardboard are reused. But it wasn’t working, we were told, because the recyclables disappeared somewhere along the routes to Bajo Flores, and the cooperative (Bajo Flores Ecological Cooperative of Recyclers) was left with little to sort or sell. We learned today that the government decided to flex its muscles a little (it was their plan after all that was going awry) and called on their Secretaría de Inteligencia to get involved. They used GPS technology and planted some moles to track the truck routes and seem to have effectively disrupted the subterfuge. We’ll see. In any case, this bodes well for Bajo Flores but may mean the end of our little theatre experiment. Oh well!