NBA House - Waste Pickers Programme


The Project

The National Basketball Association (NBA), runs a variety of sustainability initiatives through its NBA Green program.  During the Olympic Games in Rio, NBA House presented by Cisco introduced a unique waste management program aimed at reducing the waste they produced from entering the landfill by 97%.

Their initiative aptly coincided with the “Rio Olympics waste pickers program”, which was in partnership with Rio 2016, Coca-Cola, the Rio state government and Federal government of Brazil. The program saw waste pickers collect recyclable goods from Maracana, Olympic Park and Deodoro and transport them to a central depot where they were sorted, stored and sold to scrap merchants. The pickers were given a share of the profits; as well as, a fixed daily salary of R$80 (£19), significantly more than their normal average of R$30 (£7) per day.

Nine members from the community were recruited by the NBA to work on the waste management project.  Pickers collected and sorted waste by type (e.g. PET-bottles, cardboard, cans, etc.)  Items collected were either sold, given to brokers or stored where necessary and all other items sent to the landfill.

The Story

NBA House presented by Cisco was constructed in a warehouse in Rio's renovated port area.  The majority of the waste produced at the venue was sorted on-site and where possible, re-used to benefit the local community for example reused or recycled PET bottles. 

Energy efficient lighting was incorporated for all NBA House presented by Cisco entertainment while strategically placed air-conditioners managed a natural stream of air flowing through the house.  This provided an effective climate control system thereby lowering the overall amount of energy consumed.

Admission to the venue was free for members of the Rio community as a way to include basketball fans in the Olympic celebrations.  As part of the activities the NBA invited local basketball organizations to House to participate in a 3x3 tournament.” 

The Result

During the construction, 470m3 waste was collected, of which only 2m3 entered the landfill. A staggering 99.5% of NBA House presented by Cisco’s waste was “managed” – either sold or donated to organizations with the ability to reuse the material, store it for its value (e.g. vinyl) or give it a new life through recycling.   

The NBA House presented by Cisco program established that certain types of waste products have an economic value in Rio and their value varied significantly based on the type of waste; such as, cardboard, cans, plastic and foam.

The initiative brought awareness to the sustainability efforts at NBA House presented by Cisco and highlighted that ‘waste should not be wasted’ and that everyone can reduce, reuse and recycle.


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