Upside to Rio's low-key New Year party: less trash

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –

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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: 87 percent less garbage on Copacabana beach.

Municipal waste collectors in Brazil's party capital picked up just 6.5 tonnes of litter from the iconic beach after a muted New Year's Eve, down from an average of 50 tonnes in previous years, said the municipal sanitation service, COMLURB.

"There weren't many large gatherings. People respected the order to stay home," said COMLURB chief Flavio Lopes, in comments carried by news site G1.

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.