"What we have no doubt about is that it is fundamental to transpose the plastics directive. We are committed to do it before the European Union deadlines, 1 July, 2021" said João Pedro Matos Fernandes, adding: "I do not deny that the issue of covid-19 has disturbed all this work”.

The minister was speaking to journalists as part of a visit to the Casa dos Animais, a support structure for dogs and cats in Lisbon City Hall, since the Ministry of the Environment will have the supervision of pet animals.

Asked whether the ban on the use of disposable plastics in catering, scheduled for September, will be maintained, although some sectors have already requested a postponement, the minister said only: "I have nothing more to say now, as soon as there are news they will be public.

Matos Fernandes also said that the biggest concern in environmental terms that he has as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, is the use of disposables, which has been "an abuse".

The minister even said he understood this use, for example of disposable cups for coffee, to motivate customers, but stressed that this "makes no sense because a washed cup has exactly the same degree of protection as a plastic cup or disposable paper.

A European Union directive passed last year bans the sale of single-use plastic products, such as plates, cutlery, cotton buds, straws, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and oxodegradable (shredded) plastic products, from July next year.

Portugal has anticipated this ban for this year.

Last May, in statements to the Lusa agency, the minister had said that the objectives of the Action Plan for the Circular Economy were being maintained, despite the "pause" due to the covid-19 pandemic.

At the time Matos Fernandes said that the measures planned for this year, such as the prohibition of single-use plastic products (such as plates, cutlery, straws or cotton buds), were maintained, anticipating the directive on the matter.