Upside to Rio de Janeiro’s low-key New Year party amid COVID-19: Less trash

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COVID-19 forced Rio de Janeiro to cancel its famed New Year’s festivities this year, but there was an upside Friday for trash collectors and the environment at large: 89 percent less garbage on Copacabana beach.

Municipal waste collectors in Brazil’s party capital picked up just 39 tonnes of litter from the iconic beach during and after its muted New Year’s Eve, down from 351 tonnes last year, said the municipal sanitation service, COMLURB.


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Across the city, they removed 194 tonnes of trash, down 75 percent from last year, it said.

“We were ready for any scenario. But congratulations to the people of Rio, who listened to the authorities’ calls to avoid large crowds and stay home,” said COMLURB chief Flavio Lopes.

Rio typically hosts one of the world’s biggest New Year’s parties -- and is left with a trash-clogged coastline the morning after.

But this year authorities canceled the annual festivities, including the fireworks display over Copacabana, as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged Brazil.

The South American country of 212 million people has registered nearly 195,000 deaths from COVID-19, the second-highest death toll worldwide, after the United States.

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