By promoting an economic and fiscal environment that favors sustainability initiatives, Rio Grande do Sul is aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, of 2016. Therefore, the State encourages the construction of resilient infrastructures and inclusive and sustainable industrialization aimed to deliver innovative production processes and energy efficiency.

Three out of the 19 Brazilian municipalities that participate in the World Resources Institute (WRI Brasil) - Sustainable Cities initiative, which collaborate with local governments to implement projects and public policies in the areas of mobility, urban development, governance, road safety, climate and resilience are located in Rio Grande do Sul (WRI, 2017). The WRI Brasil initiative in Rio Grande do Sul includes the development of projects in Pelotas, focused on sustainable urban mobility plans; in Porto Alegre, focused on resilience and reduction of climate change-related damage and in Rio Grande, through strategic alignment for sustainable urban development.

The State has an excellent performance regarding the use of appropriate waste recycling processes, as well as in the waste recycling volume, especially plastics, glass, paper and aluminum waste, according to the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Disposal Companies (Abrelpe) and the Business Recycling and Waste Services Commitment., Rio Grande do Sul ranks among the Brazilian states most committed with the development of waste recycling actions. Some examples include the establishment of legislation on selective waste collection, the promotion of selective collection and on actions targeted to raising awareness of this issue among the population and the entrepreneurs. The sector is characterized by a transversal approach of the actions of governmental agencies and the organized civil society, based on the assumption that permanent industrial growth requires sustainable strategies adapted to the continuous social and economic changes.

Waste recycling has been expanding in the State over the past few years. The development of the sector as an economically viable business is mostly based on the productive chains of plastic, paper, glass, metals, rubber, leather and organic compost. In these segments, technology is available to companies, including small-sized companies and cooperatives, despite the high costs involved, and regardless of the implementation of governmental programs.

Several types of waste reuse have been developed and encouraged with the purpose of contemplating a large number of products. Civil construction and electronics, in particular, deserve mention, because of their potential. Such initiatives provide opportunities for the integration between universities and companies, as well as for the attraction of new companies to address specific environmental issues.

The state’s vocation for sustainability can also be observed in the increasing number of renewable energy sources installed, which account for 76.1% of the installed capacity for electricity generation in Rio Grande do Sul. The main source of renewable energy is wind power, with a generation capacity of 1.8 GW distributed in 80 parks. Currently, Rio Grande do Sul accounts for 16% of the national wind energy production and is the 4th largest producer state in Brazil, also hosting the largest wind energy complex in Latin America, Campos Neutrais.

 Usina de geração de energia elétrica a partir do aproveitamento de gás de aterro sanitárioStill regarding sustainable energies, Rio Grande do Sul has considerable capacity for the implementation of solar energy, natural gas and biomass projects. Due to the geographic position of the State and to the presence of research centers in solar energy, Rio Grande do Sul is the second Brazilian state in the number of solar panel installations and in the distribution of this source of energy.

Rio Grande do Sul’s geophysical characteristics and the prominent position in the agroindustry sector favor the production of biogas and biomethane from biomass. The Biomass Atlas, a study promoted by the State Department of Mines and Energy is an excellent tool for identifying opportunities in the sector. The biomass available in Rio Grande do Sul, considering all the types of biomass assessed (including residual biomass of slaughtered cattle, pigs and poultry, and dairy products, sludge and vegetable residues generated from pruning of vineyards, landfills and sludge from sewage treatment plants), was estimated in approximately 85.7 million tons per year.

Based on this volume, the estimated potential for biogas generation is 9 million m³/day, and the potential for biogas generation from bovine manure represents approximately 52% of the total biogas available, followed by biogas generated from poultry (15%), sheep (9.6%), pigs (6.15%) and horses (3.5%). The potential of generation of biogas in landfills corresponds to 5.18%, while biogas produced in wastewater treatment plants accounts for 0.51%, and biogas from wineries, around 0.70%. Considering the potential for biogas, the generation of biomethane is estimated in approximately 5.4 million m³/day, particularly in the western and southern parts of the State, with an average generation of 744 thousand m³/day)1.

The civil construction sector in Rio Grande do Sul has also been developing sustainable actions, with emphasis to municipal programs for the management of waste generated during installations of large turbines and the fast increase in the number of green enterprises.

One key project is Quartier, in Pelotas, a concept of sustainable urban neighborhood with 3,000 housing units, commercial projects, hotel and stages covered with grass for outdoor concerts within a radius of 400 meters. The project, scheduled for mid-2018 completion, will be the first of its kind in southern Brazil to be certified by the US Green Building Council (GBC) through the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND), which certifies the sustainability of neighborhoods according to specific standards for energy, water, temperature, civil construction, waste disposal, green area and transportation (Sinduscon-RS, 2017).

Rio Grande do Sul’s sustainable development policies are coordinated by some key agencies and bodies, with emphasis to the State Department for Environment and Sustainable Development (Sema), and the infrastructure (Coinfra), Environment (Codema) and Forest Base and Furniture (Combase) councils of the Federation of Industries of Rio Grande do Sul (Fiergs).

In this regard, we highlight the new joint initiative for the establishment of the Ecological-Economic Zoning (ZEE), a tool designed to assist in territorial planning and ordering, which will attempt to recognize the peculiarities, vulnerabilities and potentialities of each Rio Grande do Sul’s region. It aims to support sustainable decisions - whether in the physical, biotic, socioeconomic or legal-institutional environments – to promote the ecological, economic and social development of the State. Thus, the ZEE will make it possible to define the public policies, plans and programs of the economic regions, aimed to promote the best use of their natural resources.

Sources: Sinduscon-RS, FDI, SME, ZEE and WRI

Sector Opportunities in Rio Grande do Sul

  •  Usina de geração de energia elétrica a partir do aproveitamento de gás de aterro sanitárioBiomass: potential for power generation plants from biomass, as well as for companies in the production chain, especially machinery and equipment, taking advantage of the already installed metal-mechanic sector.
  • Solid waste treatment: with the expansion of medium-sized cities in the State, more sustainable solid waste treatment projects that incorporate state-of-the-art technology are needed.
  • Sustainable civil construction: there is a growing trend for sustainable housing and industrial projects in Rio Grande do Sul, which provide significant business opportunities.

Business opportunities for partnerships

Look for local opportunities.

1 Available at Access on August 7, 2017.

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