Damning urban waste report says Portugal ‘hasn’t got a clue’

When it comes to verifiable data on how much urban waste the country produces, and how much is recycled, the dismal bottom line conclusion is that Portugal hasn’t got a clue.

Environmental association ZERO – vigorously fighting a number of battles – claims there are “errors and discrepancies” in data collated by responsible agencies to the point that it’s difficult to know whether or not European guidelines are adhered to.

Said Zero’s Rui Berkemeier: “there is no coherence or coincidence between figures presented by the regulatory sanitation entity (ERSAR) and APA (the Portuguese agency for the environment)”.

In fact there is not one instance where the two bodies’ data tallies, he said.

“When we analyse the various treatment systems for urban waste in detail, we see that in ERSAR’s data there are cases that are clearly wrong; situations in which it claims to recycle urban organic waste that is not even produced. There are recycling levels presented by (ERSAR) that are completely wrong”, Berkemeier told Lusa.

In the context of the European Commission, Portugal has “goals to meet when it comes to recycling urban waste”, explains the news service, adding that these goals refer to recyclable materials under the headings glass, paper, metal and/ or plastic and organic matter.

Right now, Portugal is simply not in a position to present credible data to the EC on how it is developing its recycling and transportation of urban waste matter, warned Berkemeier, adding that “if the State does not have an effective mechanism of control” on this kind of data, it could be being taken for a ride and/ or “it could say a contract is being complied with when it isn’t”.

The worst of this is that a system “where there is no good form of control will encourage bad practices and this is extremely dangerous, and could be a very bad sign for the future of the management of urban waste in Portugal”.

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