Portugal looking to reduce hazardous waste imports

By Kim Schiffmann, in News · 07-02-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Portugal imports more hazardous waste into the country than the amount that it exports to other countries according to a new report, although plans are in place to reduce this.

Portugal received in 2018 about 331,000 tonnes of hazardous waste, of which 220,000 were for recovery and 111,000 for disposal, with Italy and Malta being the countries that sent most waste for treatment.
The entry of waste in Portugal requires a written notification and approval from the national authorities, since it is mixtures that have at least one form of hazardous waste, whether from soil decontamination, sludge with dangerous substances, waste with hydrocarbons or other distillation residues and reaction residues, among others.
In response to Lusa, a Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) source explained that hazardous waste enters the country both by land borders, by road, and by sea borders, and in 2018 it entered mainly via ship and, later, train and / or truck to the treatment facilities.
According to the same source, the port of Sines is the main port of entry, receiving 64 percent, followed by the port of Setúbal, with 20 percent, and the port of Figueira da Foz (15 percent).
At the beginning of the year, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Matos Fernandes, stated that Portugal would apply the principle of systematic objection to limit the import of waste from European countries to landfill, as of 6 January.
Matos Fernandes justified that the order resulted from the “great” growth in the import of waste to landfills in the last three years.
The minister explained that the community rules for the circulation of waste within the European Union (EU) indicate that member countries “must minimise distances and must seek to be self-sufficient”.

“Until now, what was done was, fulfilling the technical conditions for both transport and deposition, operations were authorised. From now on, we will start by objecting to these operations. There will never be licensing based on the conditions techniques, but only after the verification of a set of conditions that guarantee, namely, that we are not endangering the capacity of landfills in Portugal and that the option of other countries, especially Italy, is not a lazy option, but that it results from an objective need that this country may have”, he said.
In Portugal, 11 treatment operators can receive hazardous waste from other countries for disposal in landfills, provided that the types of waste and the respective treatment operation are provided for in the respective licenses, according to APA.
Matos Fernandes reaffirmed that requests from other countries for depositing waste in landfills (for disposal) are being assessed with “much more criteria”, specifying that the volume went from around 60,000 tonnes in 2017 to 250,000 tonnes in 2019.
While the country continues to receive large amounts of waste for disposal, Portugal also is guilty of exporting waste to other countries.
Portugal sent around 58,000 tonnes of hazardous waste abroad in 2018 for recovery and disposal, in a total of 50 processes, a number that has fallen for five consecutive years since 2013, when they registered 96 cases.
“In 2018, the total amount of waste sent from Portugal was 57,740 tonnes and the total amount of waste received in Portugal was 330,915 tonnes”, states the 2018 Transboundary Waste Movement report, in the chapter dedicated to the “Orange List”, on hazardous waste.
According to the most recent report by the APA, which is validating data for 2019, 96 notification processes were registered in 2013, corresponding to 67,259 tonnes; in 2014 there were 74 processes (57,079 tonnes); in 2015 there were 72 (55,524 tonnes), in 2016 another 60 (53,422) and 2017 a total of 57 (57,328 tonnes).
The total waste output for disposal, for incineration on land, was headed mainly for Germany where pharmaceutical waste was being disposed of.
According to the report, solid waste from gas treatment containing dangerous substances represented 52 percent (29,349 tonnes) of the total waste that left the country for recovery in 2018, destined for Spain.
For Morocco, 12,289 tonnes were treated, representing 22 percent of the lead accumulating waste.
In 2018, and for the first time, waste left for Norway, namely engine oils, transmissions and lubrication, for treatment to be used as fuel or other means of energy production.



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