The new waste law, approved in December 2020, states that no subsidies should be created for waste management operations other than prevention, reuse and recycling, but by financing the burning of recyclable waste at incineration plants in Lisbon and Porto the environment minister is taking a "totally contrary" decision, accuses Zero in a statement.
João Pedro Matos Fernandes' decision, the association adds, is not only contrary to the objectives of developing the circular economy and recycling, but is also "an obstacle in the fight against climate change", as well as being "socially unjust and against national cohesion" (because it does not apply to the whole country).
Zero's accusations take into account the new law on waste, and ordinances 244 and 308, of 2020, which set the tariff applicable to incineration units, and which benefit from a subsidised tariff, which will be phased down until 31 December 2023.
The ordinances also set penalties in the event of non-compliance with targets "that are set in the Strategic Plan for Municipal Waste (PERSU), namely those for diversion of bio-waste.
In a letter sent to the Environment Minister on 26 March, Zero expressed concern over the Government's decision to "use funds from the Environmental Fund to support costs associated with the incineration of urban waste".
Furthermore, it added, the two Urban Waste Management Systems (SGRU) on the mainland, and the two in the autonomous regions "that will benefit from these funds have obtained recycling rates that are clearly below the European targets set for 2020, making it obvious that with this incentive to incinerate, they will not invest, as they should, in recycling".
In the letter, Zero also said they didn't understand what "diversion of bio-waste" meant in the decree, and why only Lisbon and Oporto benefited, as well as the Environment Ministry's decision to finance incineration.
"At a time when Portugal recycles little more than 20 percent of its urban waste, has missed the recycling targets for 2020 and will have to reuse and recycle 55 percent of waste in 2025, 60 percent in 2030 and 65 percent in 2035, Matos Fernandes thinks it appropriate to spend tens of millions of Euros of public funds to encourage the burning of recyclable materials," Zero says in a statement released on 16 April.
The association adds that the recycling targets set by the Government for the two systems with incineration (Valorsul and Lipor, Lisbon and Oporto) are lower than those set for the rest of the country, "in a clear protectionism to those who invest essentially in burning waste".
Favouring Lisbon and Porto is an unfair measure in social terms and in terms of national cohesion, says Zero, adding that the Ministry of the Environment, is in "counter-cycle" with European policies in the sector, promoting "a solution that is an attack on climate protection", so the environmentally correct option is to cancel support for the burning of recyclable materials.