In September this year, a partnership established between three entities linked to urban waste put forward the claim that each citizen in Portugal produces an average of 40 kilos of rubbish per month.
Per year, the trio said, the country produces almost five million tons of waste, which is triple the weight of the Vasco da Gama Bridge.
Now, an annual report on waste by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) has brought more discouraging numbers to the fore.
The APA’s study shows that Portugal has been producing an increasing amount of waste for four consecutive years.
Last year, the amount of rubbish produced was two percent higher than the year before, and the APA has warned that, on this track, the country will struggle to meet its national targets, especially as efforts to increase recycling are still insufficient.
It said that, in addition to proving that the national population is not yet committed to selective waste collection, the report shows that among the total waste, there are less recyclables recovered.
Overall, 50 thousand tons fewer recyclables have been recovered, which corresponds to a decrease of nine percent compared to 2016.
The separation of rubbish by Portuguese fell from 11 to 10 percent, reversing a tendency spanning several years.
The agency explains that “although the data points to a positive evolution towards the fulfilment of waste separation, it is worth noting the stabilisation of the fraction selectively collected for material valorisation in relation to total waste”, which contradicts the “ambitious” Community strategy and national waste targets.
Rui Berkemeier, spokesperson for national environmental association ZERO, said one of the main issues is that “citizens do not feel motivated to put any effort into their waste separation”, because there are “no direct advantages over those who do not do it or penalties if they don’t”.