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Portugal's declining waste recycling performance increses need for landfill

rubbishThe annual report from Portugal’s Environment Agency shows that the amount of rubbish produced in the country is rising and that all efforts to increase recycling are not working.

The Portuguese have been producing more garbage over the past four years but the biggest problem is that amount of waste being recycled fell by 50,000 tons last year, a 9% decline.

Each person in Portugal produces an average of 40 kilos of waste per month, per year, producing nearly five million tons of waste annually.

The report describes a "significant decrease" in the recycling figures and attributes it to a fall in the amount of waste placed in recycling bins and a failure of mechanical selection of waste types at recycling centres.

Rui Berkemeier, from the environmental association Zero, confirmed the shortcomings in the recycling system, "Portugal is, in fact, far from the recycling targets for 2020 and very long way off the targets for 2025. There is a whole paradigm shift here that has to be done."

The pre-selection of waste made by citizens and companies fell from 11% to 10% of the total waste produced in the country.

Another conclusion that worries environmental authorities was the consequent increase in waste going to landfill last year, a "reversal of the downward trend that could undermine the defined 2020 objectives in the Strategic Plan for Urban Waste.”

“The Ministry of the Environment continues to promote ecopoints, a system that has many limitations, and door-to-door collections are going to take decades,” according to Berkemeier, who accuses the government of "using tricks" to manipulate the recycling data, counting waste that goes to landfill as ‘recycled.’

The report states that efforts to increase the selective collection of waste for recycling, "have not been properly reflected in the behavior of the population" and if Portugal wants to meet the targets for 2020, "it is urgent to evaluate possible alternatives" to get the Portuguese to separate more waste.

One of the proposals from the Environment Agency is that people "actively participate" in the selection of garbage "and systems continue to be developed that financially encourage those who do this separation and penalising those who do not."

Collecting and treating waste costs €755 million per year, equivalent to more than €75 per citizen but with no national impetus to recycle, this figure is likely to rise and targets will remain unachievable, even with the government fiddling the figures.

Comments  

0 #7 John m 2018-11-14 10:34
The recycling bins in Lagos are often poorly labelled. The intense sunlight bleaches the labels so it requires some effort to establish which bin to use. Periodic sign renewal might help people to use the correct bin.
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0 #6 SueF 2018-11-11 08:06
It would be really useful to know what the percentages are of each type of waste so that the problem can be tackled at source. 5 litre water bottles could be refilled if supermarkets offered a bulk 'fill-your-own' bottle scheme, with a charge still being made for the water. We could all reuse plastic bags used for clean fruit and veg by bringing them back to the shop - the same idea as plastic shopping bags. Supermarkets could provide bins near the checkout to dump excess packaging, for example the plastic wrapper over 6 boxes of milk. The list is endless.
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+3 #5 Ed 2018-11-08 11:48
Quoting Michael Reeve-afpop:
Elspeth we do know what is done in the Portimão treatment plant, because we've visited it. We (afpop) arranged a visit earlier in the year and have another one scheduled for 15th November. feel free to join us on the visit if you wish - there's no cost. Just contact the afpop office and we'll add you to the list.

This, indeed, is a worthwhile trip. The recycling process is hampered by the lack of pre-sorting by the public, to the incomprehension and disappointment of those who sort the rubbish at the plant. Gas from rotting landfill powers a generator that supplies electricity to the plant and to the grid.

All-in-all, a well-worth trip for those who want to know more.

Plus - gardeners will be astounded at the vast piles of perfect compost, available at a fraction of the retail price.
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+2 #4 Michael Reeve-afpop 2018-11-08 11:40
Elspeth we do know what is done in the Portimão treatment plant, because we've visited it. We (afpop) arranged a visit earlier in the year and have another one scheduled for 15th November. feel free to join us on the visit if you wish - there's no cost. Just contact the afpop office and we'll add you to the list.
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+1 #3 Margaridaana 2018-11-08 09:17
Quoting elspeth flood:
Do we really know how the waste we so carefully separate is treated? What is done with it?

A very good question Elspeth. I have seen, in the Tavira area, carefully separated rubbish all being emptied into the same lorry. Is there really any point in our separating items if they all end up mixed together. How indeed are these things recycled?
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+4 #2 Poor Portugesa 2018-11-08 09:09
Quoting elspeth flood:
Do we really know how the waste we so carefully separate is treated? What is done with it?

As I use the re-cycling points at different places, I find some are - often - over-flowing.
The government should compel the return of plastic water bottles, perhaps for a discount.
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+4 #1 elspeth flood 2018-11-08 08:45
Do we really know how the waste we so carefully separate is treated? What is done with it?
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