Exposed - Portugal's waste recycling figures have been fiddled for years

landfill2The Ministry of the Environment has been caught out in a giant fiddle - it has been counting thousands of tonnes of waste sent to landfill sites, as ‘recycled’ in order to make its figures look greener.

Portugal's top environmental association, ZERO, has taken data obtained from the Portuguese Environment Agency on the recycling rate from each of the country's urban waste management areas and cross-referenced the 2016 data as published in the government’s Environment Report 2017.

The figures show that the government has been fiddling the figures to make its recycling rates look acceptable to the EU while covering up the fact that it has been sending hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recyclable rubbish to landfill sites.

According to the official data, 1,030,001 tonnes of urban waste were recycled in 2016, which falls way short of an Environmental Agency written reply sent to ZERO, stating that 1,298,710 tonnes were recycled.

The difference of 268,709 tonnes has been counted as 'recycled' when in fact this was sent to landfill sites or incinerated, and the Waste Management Fee was paid to the Ministry of the Environment which now is accused of having the best of both worlds. The ministry received the revenue from TGR for landfill or incineration waste, around €1.7 million, and at the same time it counted the same waste as ‘recycled’ in order to present a better environmental performance than had been achieved in reality.

The recycling rate of 38% of urban waste presented by the Environment Agency for 2016, and repeated in the last State of the Environment report, in fact was only 30% - which is way short of the European Community target of 50% set for 2020.

The reason for this mismatch of numbers is because the Environment Agency, on the orders of the Ministry of the Environment, categorises as ‘recycled’ all organic waste entering the organic waste recovery units and mechanical and biological treatment plants, regardless of whether this waste in fact is recycled and processed into compost, or sent to landfill or incineration.

For ZERO, this is a gross manipulation of recycling data which successfully has fiddled Portugal’s recycling rate with a complete lack of transparency. The organisation demands that the Environment Minister, João Matos Fernandes, rectifies matters while MPs call for a full inquiry into the situation.

The Environment Ministry stated in response that the method of calculating recycled waste tonnage in 2016, "follows the criteria followed in previous years, the only objective way of comparing and tracing the development of the country in relation to the established target for 2020,” and that “changes in calculation methodologies" may be made due to new European directive and that it admits changes are likely to be necessary.

The ministry's laughable excuse, 'we had to keep lying so that our lies were consistent,' is unlikly to afford the minister much leeway when explaining this situation to Brussels.

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Comments  

-2 #24 JonnieT 2018-01-22 08:54
Quoting Darcy:
Hope you are happy mr ed and ZERO, as you have both, effectively turned the few reader's that you have against future re-cycling with this unbalanced article which you have provided.
Yes, yes, best to say nothing at all about the government lying to make its figures look better. Ed should shut up and keep us all in blissful ignorance even when those whose salaries we help to pay, return the favour by misleading citizens and Brussels. I think Darcy might be on the wrong website if he/she expects our esteemed Ed to support the Environment Minister (Ria Formosa, Tejo pollution, Galp-ENI etc etc Last time I looked, our Algarve News has 100,000 readers in one month
0 #23 Darcy 2018-01-22 08:44
Hope you are happy mr ed and ZERO, as you have both, effectively turned the few reader's that you have against future re-cycling with this unbalanced article which you have provided.
0 #22 Beverley Gibbons 2018-01-21 08:10
I dutifully have 3 bins for recyclable rubbish, plus general bins.

However, I remember some years ago in Loulé watching the waste lorry lifting the recycle bins out of the ground - fascinating - only to put all the waste bins contents into the same lorry container! I would like Ed to investigate if this system does work and the divided stuff does get to the destination in that state.
0 #21 Ed 2018-01-20 23:30
Quoting Denby:
Mr ed,
Glad that you have cleared that up, and have come clean, regarding your misquote.


It was not a quote, that's the whole point.....
0 #20 Denby 2018-01-20 23:16
Mr ed,
Glad that you have cleared that up, and have come clean, regarding your misquote.
+1 #19 Peter Booker 2018-01-19 08:51
After your last comment, Ed, I shall nominate you for the John Humphrys prize. I bet you could use his salary.
0 #18 Ed 2018-01-18 11:06
Quoting Denby:
Ed,
DID the Minister say the words
We had to keep lying so our lies were consistent "
Please answer YES or No.

'No,' Denby. I really can't understand why you can not grasp this - unless willfully.

The Ministry (NOT the minister) stated "...follows the criteria followed in previous years, the only objective way of comparing and tracing the development of the country in relation to the established target for 2020," - my interpretation of which is 'we had to keep lying so that our lies were consistent' - do you understand now, answer 'yes' or 'no?'
0 #17 Denby 2018-01-18 10:14
Ed,
DID the Minister say the words
We had to keep lying so our lies were consistent "
Please answer YES or No.
+2 #16 AL 2018-01-18 09:50
Quoting elspeth macmillan:
Am I to understand that the carefully divided recyclable waste actually goes to land fill, and I might as well use the general lixo bins? I am told I am crazy to recycle here, and think this octogenarion will save what little time she has left, and simplify me life. I am disgusted.

No, the waste in question is only the one that goes into the general waste bin not the divided recycled waste.
+1 #15 Ed 2018-01-18 08:18
Quoting Denby:
Mr ed,
I take it, that the Minister did NOT say the word's below.
"we had to keep lying, so that our lies were consistent."
It appears that you have misquoted the Minister, and indeed the only "lying" that took place was by yourself.
I would not be surprised, that when this comes to the Minister's attention, that you could be prosecuted for defamation of character.

Denny, please read earlier response but to clarify, this is not a quote, it is not in double quotation marks and is a summary conclusion of the Ministry’s response - not the minister’s.

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