The IT Director of Safeweb, Luiz Carlos Zancanella Junior convinced his family’s company to support the construction of an ecobarrier to harvest solid waste in Diluvio stream, in Porto Alegre

As I am from the technology industry, I like things that work by themselves. One day, I saw a video of a barrier in Baltimore, in the US, that automatically removes waste from a local river. It is self-cleaning. The river itself turns a water wheel, which moves a mat, which collects the residue tapered by the physical barrier and accumulates this material for disposal. I found it interesting and wanted to do something similar in Porto Alegre. I took the idea to the company where I work at, which is my father’s, a person with strong social responsibility. My father takes care of a forest reserve in the north of the state and my grandfather, when he was alive, created the first state environmental reserve. So, my family cares for the environment since when I was born. My father liked the idea and we looked for the right people to set up the Ecobarrier, a machine with the right characteristics to be operated in the Diluvio stream [a watercourse that crosses Porto Alegre and flows into Lake Guaíba]. The automatic machine I wanted was impossible to build. Unfortunately, the one we can set up requires two operators. But this is also good: we generate a few jobs while cleaning the watercourse.

Luiz Carlos Zancanella Junior graduated in Computer Sciences at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) and was born in the countryside of the State, in the city of Rio Grande, but he has been living in Porto Alegre for so long that he considers himself originally from Porto Alegre. Just like almost every local, he has always been concerned about the amount of rubbish in Diluvio stream, the watercourse that crosses the capital and flows into river Guaíba. The Ecobarrier idea emerged out of this concern.

The Ecobarrier, as the name says, is an ecological barrier at the mouth of the Diluvio stream, located at the corner of Ipiranga and Borges de Medeiros avenues, in the neighborhood of Praia de Belas. In this barrier, the garbage that would flow from the stream to the river is barred and removed, daily, by teams of the Municipal Department of Urban Cleaning (DMLU, in Portuguese). The project, which costs R$ 250 thousand to develop and operate, was fully funded by Safeweb, a company of the Zancanella family, where Junior is the IT Director. Both of these projects were supported by Braskem. Junior attended the Virada Sustentável Festival in Porto Alegre to follow some debates in the first afternoon of activities.

“For me, the Ecobarrier has two qualities: it is useful and pleasant. I’ve always liked this part of the environment. My grandfather was Deputy Mayor in Sarandi [countryside of Rio Grande do Sul] between 1959 and 1963 and created the first state reserve, the hydroflorestal reserve, which bears his name today, Domingos Zancanella. At that time, he already had this concern and brought the idea to the governor, Leonel Brizola – the goal was to preserve the river springs. He knew that if we ran out of water, we would not go very far. He passed this sense of environmental responsibility over to my father, who passed it over me,” says Junior

“When we established [Safeweb], my father was concerned about putting windows on every wall to use natural light, and installing a rainwater reuse system to supply the toilets. For years, we have also worked to be a company that generates as little waste as possible. We only have one trash per floor to avoid stimulating waste production,” says Junior. “This awareness has always been present – so, when I saw the [Baltimore Ecobarrier] machine, I thought I could help the city with a chronic problem being useful and pleasant: I could do something cool and solve a problem,” said Junior.

At the age of 32, Junior has no children, but always thinks of his nieces and nephews, his sister’s children. “I see that they will be impacted by this type of attitude. What I am doing today is ensuring that when my niece is my age, she will have clean, quality water, a nice environment to live and the possibility of using natural resources,” he says. “I see sustainability as the conscious use of these resources and the quest to make them reusable.”

Junior makes a point of remembering that sustainability has a social and educational side. “A lot of people live from recycling, and by throwing garbage in the wrong place, you take away the work of those people. So, the concept of sustainability comprises much more than natural resources,” he says. “Sustainability also involves education: the Ecobarrier itself shows that pile of garbage for the people who pass by, who smell it.” Thereby, sustainability becomes a topic and, perhaps, a priority for some people, as it already is for Junior and the Zancanella family..

Content published in April 11, 2018

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