By: CHRIS GRAEME
MOUNTAINS of construction rubble illegally dumped by building sites and at road sides has lead to a new environmental law to regulate construction waste.
The 5.2 million tons of rubble illegally dumped annually by the side of secondary roads, on river banks, and in open countryside could soon be a thing of the past.
As of June, the new laws will force construction companies to separate out rubble and send it for recycling, a move that has been welcomed by environmental group Quercus.
Nunes Correia, Minister for the Environment, is convinced that the new law will improve the country’s environmental quality.
The law aims to prepare Portugal for a future European Union directive on building waste dumping and recycling.
Despite applauding the measure, Quercus did point out a number of contradictions, highlighting the problem of companies not being legally forced to reuse a percentage of construction waste in new building projects.
“Specialist companies can separate out and send waste for recycling but there is no law to force companies to actually use a percentage in construction projects,” said Pedro Carteiro from Quercus. The environmentalist gave the example, widely used in Brazil, of using waste rubber tyres in road building, practised by companies such as Petrobras.
Without such a supporting law, it may still prove cheaper for construction companies to bury treated construction rubble and waste in landfill sites.
“In 2006, it was decided that companies would have to pay five euros for each ton of waste deposited in landfill sites.
“This law reduces that value to two euros per ton,” said Cármen Lima of Quercus who says the government’s policy on construction waste is contradictory and fails to encourage recycling of waste building materials.
Quercus also questions how the law will be enforced and who will police the dumping of building waste.
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