Professions: The Garbage Collector

Release Date:  16 May 2021




Issue Date: 19 May 2021
Designer Artist: Bernardo França
Sheet Composition: 
Stamp Size: 30 x 40 mm
Printing Method: Offset lithography
Perforation: comb 12 x 11½
Quantity: 300,000 stamps

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On the stamp, we see in the foreground a Gari who works with the truck team, these who are responsible for the heaviest and so fundamental cleaning for the city. After meeting with another urban cleaning professional he waves at her. Gari who takes the cart with him has his performance somewhat more punctual but of equal importance in maintaining the cleanliness of our cities. Unifying the image, the chosen colors aim to illustrate the diversity of our people. The digital illustration technique was used to design this stamp.

Stamp Series Professions: Gari

Published on May 14, 2021 by Saadia Ribeiro Macedo Alves
Written by: Christina Habli Brandão Dutra (machine-translated from Portuguese to English)

Fourth launch of the year, the Special Issue Series Professions: Gari is the first in a sequence of 5 stamps scheduled until 2025. Present among the eight reasons chosen at the 118th CFN, this issue is part of the 2021 Postage Stamp Program and comes to highlight the importance of those responsible for cleaning public roads.

Several studies point to the invisibility of some professions, and the street sweeper is part of this hall. Much of this is linked to our history and this stamp comes to honor these professionals who show their value on a daily basis, which gained prominence as an essential service in times of pandemic for maintaining the health of all of us.

Even with a historical background that marks us, it is always time to do better, review points of view and standards. In 2012, Renato Sorriso, already known and recognized on Tupiniquim soil for his charisma at Marquês de Sapucaí, participated in the closing ceremony of the London Games alongside great personalities, such as Pelé, who represent the Brazilianness of our people. In 2020, Tales Alves became known on the streets of Belo Horizonte as the Gari Galã , who was once a supermarket cashier and chose to be a street sweeper.

This all shows that our view, and of course, our attitudes are capable of bringing the new, and seeing and valuing all professions. And more than that, the labels no longer fit. What counts are the examples, practices and honesty of each professional.

The recognition of this category through the postage stamp is, in addition to a fair tribute, the opportunity to pass on an imaginary message from these workers, sometimes invisible, as highly relevant citizens.

The stamp’s artist is Bernardo França (1982), from Brasilia, who has lived and worked in São Paulo since 2009, a sought-after illustrator in the editorial market, art director, set designer for animation as well as a scriber.

Co-author of the children’s book “São Paulo é Legal! Patrimônio”, author of “Mulher-de-sexta”, Bernardo has his features illustrating books by major publishers and the largest media outlets in Brazil. In addition, he is the art director of the national cartoon “Oswaldo”, animation set designer for the feature film “Historietas – O Filme” and the animated children’s series “Historietas Assombradas”, art director (sets and character designer) for the program “ Vai que Cola ”(2016). Abroad, he has illustrated on several occasions for the Euroman magazine in Denmark.

The illustrator was invited, along with three other artists, to participate in the selection to create the art of the Gari stamp. Her work was chosen by the evaluation committee of this postal issue, which used criteria such as creativity, commercial appeal, plastic quality, among others.

A collector of vinyl records and plants, Bernardo tells a little about his experience as an artist in this issue in the following interview:

Bernardo: When I read that the honoree of the stamp would be Gari, I was very happy to participate. And from the admiration I have for the profession, I knew that I would deliver something that I was proud to have done.

Philately: How was your creative process for the illustration of the Gari stamp?

Bernardo: Having received the invitation to participate in the contest, I start drawing ideas in my head until the moment I want to see them on paper. These are scribbles that, despite their initial stage, already carry a good load of the final message. Chosen the design that I thought best suited to the objective, I take it to the computer and start from scratch the completion of the work. In this stage, another element of great importance enters, the selection of colors. At the beginning I even drew some sketches of a street sweeper that uses the wheelbarrow, shovel and broom and others only with the street sweeper, from the heaviest cleaning. But it would be unfair to portray just one or the other. I soon understood that joining the two on the stamp would be a better and fairer option.

Draft 1
Draft 2
Draft 3

Draft 4

Philately: Talking about the Gari, what is the social importance of this profession for you?

Bernardo: Very important. I have great admiration, especially for the team of professionals who work on the trucks. Living in a gigantic city like São Paulo, I keep thinking about the chaos it would be without our urban cleaning professionals.

Philately: How was the challenge of making an illustration in a space as restricted as the stamp? How was that experience?

Bernardo: In my day-to-day profession, I come across illustration services in the most varied dimensions. It can be 4 meters or 4 cm as the stamp. I think I am already used to these adversities, but in a job like this on the stamp, it is always important to focus on reading the image, focusing on simplicity precisely because of the size of the final image.

Philately: Are stamps or philately part of your history?

Bernardo: I am a distant connoisseur. I love flags, heraldry, logos, but my knowledge of the world of stamps is very short.

Philately: If this is your debut in philately, what does that mean for you?

Bernardo: Working as an illustrator, trips to the post office to send contracts were very common. Despite the brief period between being called to the counter until the stamps were applied to the envelope by the Post Office professional, I always looked curious which stamps were glued. There was a stamp that was very recurrent (also in the series on Professions), it was the Seamstress stamp. I remember imagining how cool it would be, as an illustrator and a postal user, to see a stamp with my drawing. I celebrate as a personal achievement.

Philately: Observing some of his works, vividness in colors is very present, bringing a lot of Brazilianness and the popular to his art. Is this your style, a kind of trademark?

Bernardo: As a graphic artist I try my best to keep on the move and follow new paths, but of course some elements and guidelines are present throughout my trajectory. I confess that this quality of Brazilianness / popular is somewhat recent but conscious. After all, what good is it to create images that do not represent our time and our people?

Interested? Learn more about Bernardo França’s work on his Instagram profile (@delaburns ).

It is worth remembering that in philately, the street sweeper was highlighted among the professionals who are on the frontline and are essential, pictured on the stamp entitled “Essential Services” in the Block of Special Stamps Combating COVID-19, launched in June 2020.

The notice for the Profissão Gari special issue is now available here on the Filatelia Blog and the stamps are for sale in the virtual store.

Waste Collector

A waste collector, also known as a garbageman, trashman (in the US), dustman or binman (in the UK), is a person employed by a public or private enterprise to collect and dispose of municipal solid waste (refuse) and recyclables from residential, commercial, industrial or other collection sites for further processing and waste disposal. The first known waste collectors were said to come from Britain in the 1350s, coinciding with the Black Plague and were called “rakers.” Specialized waste collection vehicles (also known as garbage trucks in the US, dustbin lorries in the UK) featuring an array of automated functions are often deployed to assist waste collectors in reducing collection and transport time and for protection from exposure. Waste and recycling pickup work is physically demanding and usually exposes workers to an occupational hazard.

A related occupation is that of a sanitation worker who operates and maintains sanitation technology.

‎Garbage collectors doing their jobs on the Place des Prêcheurs in ‎‎Aix-en-Provence‎‎ ‎‎(Bouches-du-Rhône,‎‎France)‎, 8 May 2010

Statistics show that waste collection is one of the most dangerous jobs, at times more dangerous than police work, but consistently less dangerous than commercial fishing and ranch and farm work. On-the-job hazards include broken glass, medical waste such as syringes, caustic chemicals, objects falling out of overloaded containers, diseases that may accompany solid waste, asbestos, dog attacks and pests, inhaling dust, smoke and chemical fumes, severe weather, traffic accidents, and unpleasant smells that can make someone physically sick.

Before the 20th century, the amount of waste produced by a household was relatively small. Household waste was often simply thrown out of an open window, buried in the garden or deposited in outhouses. When human concentrations became more dense, waste collectors, called nightmen or gong farmers were hired to collect the night soil from pail closets, performing their duties only at night (hence the name). Meanwhile, disposing of refuse became a problem wherever cities grew. Often refuse was placed in unusable areas just outside the city, such as wetlands and tidal zones. One example is London, which from Roman times disposed of its refuse outside the London Wall beside the River Thames. Another example is 1830s Manhattan, where thousands of hogs were permitted to roam the streets and eat garbage. A small industry developed as “swill children” collected kitchen refuse to sell for pig feed and the rag and bone man traded goods for bones (used for glue) and rags (essential for paper manufacture prior to the invention of wood pulping). Later, in the late nineteenth century, trash was fed to swine in industrial.

As sanitation engineering came to be practiced beginning in the mid-19th century and human waste was conveyed from the home in pipes, the gong farmer was replaced by the municipal rubbish collector as there remained growing amounts of household refuse, including fly ash from coal, which was burnt for home heating. In Paris, the rag and bone man worked side by side with the municipal bin man, though reluctantly: in 1884, Eugène Poubelle introduced the first integrated curbside collection (kerbside in the UK) and recycling system, requiring residents to separate their waste into perishable items, paper and cloth, and crockery and shells. He also established rules for how private collectors and city workers should cooperate and he developed standard dimensions for refuse containers: his name in France is now synonymous with the garbage can. Under Poubelle, food waste and other organics collected in Paris were transported to nearby Saint Ouen where they were composted. This continued well into the 20th century when plastics began to contaminate the waste stream.

From the late-19th century to the mid-20th century, more or less consistent with the rise of consumables and disposable products municipalities began to pass anti-dumping ordinances and introduce curbside collection. Residents were required to use a variety of refuse containers to facilitate curbside collection but the main type was a variation of Poubelle’s metal garbage container. It was not until the late 1960s that the green bin bag was introduced by Glad. Later, as waste management practices were introduced with the aim of reducing landfill impacts, a range of container types, mostly made of durable plastic, came to be introduced to facilitate the proper diversion of the waste stream. Such containers include blue boxes, green bins and wheelie bins or dumpsters.

Over time, waste collection vehicles gradually increased in size from the hand pushed tip cart or English dust cart, a name by which these vehicles are still referred, to large compactor trucks.

Curbside collection using a compactor truck in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2007

Street Sweeper

A street sweeper or street cleaner may refer to a person’s occupation, or a machine that cleans streets. A street sweeper cleans the streets, usually in an urban area.

Street sweepers have been employed in cities as “sanitation workers” since sanitation and waste removal became a priority. A street-sweeping person would use a broom and shovel to clean off litter, animal waste and filth that accumulated on streets. Later, water hoses were used to wash the streets.

Machines were created in the 19th century to do the job more efficiently. Today, modern street sweepers are mounted on truck bodies and can vacuum debris that accumulates in streets.

Sinder worker at Paseo de La Reforma, Mexico City, 16 May 2004

The need for rubbish to be removed from roads in built-up areas has existed for centuries. Sometimes a local law in a town or city ordered the owner of occupier of each address to clean the length of that road that passed his address. Sometimes when much traffic was horse-drawn vehicles or ridden horses, there were street cleaners who selectively removed horse droppings because of their value as fertilizer on nearby rural areas.

By the 1840s, Manchester, England, had become known as the first industrial city. Manchester had one of the largest textile industries of that time. As a result, the robust metropolis was said to be England’s unhealthiest place to live. In response to this unsanitary environment, Joseph Whitworth invented the mechanical street sweeper. The street sweeper was designed with the primary objective to remove rubbish from streets in order to maintain aesthetic goals and safety.

The very first street sweeping machine was patented in 1849 by its inventor, C.S. Bishop. For a long time, street sweepers were just rotating disks covered with wire bristles. These rotating disks served as mechanical brooms that swept the dirt on the streets.

Street sweeper in Kashgar in the Tarim Basin region of Southern Xinjiang, China, 15 June 2011

A common misconception is that Charles Brooks invented the street sweeper in America in 1896. Brooks’ design, far from being the “first street sweeper,” was just a variation of what already existed, and the patent for it was among the more than 300 street sweeper patents issued in the United States before 1900. Most 19th-century sweepers, including the one in Brooks’ patent, were horsecarts with no engine on board. The wheels on the cart turned gears or chains which drove the brush and belt. The first self-propelled sweeper vehicle patented in the US, driven by a steam engine and intended for cleaning railroad tracks, was patented in 1868, patent No. 79606. Eureka C. Bowne was the first known woman to get a patent for a street sweeper, in 1879, patent No. 222447. “Her success was great”, wrote Matilda Joslyn Gage in The North American Review, volume 136, issue 318, May 1883.

The goal of simple debris removal did not change until the 1970s, when policymakers begun to reflect concern for water quality. In the United States, the lag time in which street sweepers responded can be pinpointed to the Runoff Report of 1998. As older street sweepers were only effective in removing large particles of road debris, small particles of debris remained behind in large quantities. The remaining debris was not seen as an aesthetic issue because rain would wash them away. Today, small particles are known to carry a substantial portion of the stormwater pollutant load.

Street sweeping can be an effective measure in reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff. The Environmental Protection Agency considers street sweeping the best practice in protecting water quality.

Monument of street sweeper in St. Petersburg, Russia, photographed circa 2006-2009




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