Municipal waste production and management

The "Municipal waste production and management" fact sheet measures the amount of municipal waste produced and collected in mainland Portugal, as well as the evolution of the destination of municipal waste produced in mainland Portugal, namely through the preparation for reuse and recycling and the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill.

Waste production is a result of the use of resources in the socio-economic activities that characterize our daily life. Waste has its origin in the various phases of the socio-economic metabolism, since raw materials are extracted from nature until the moment when the materials and products into which they are transformed cease to be of use to their consumer.

According to the General Waste Management Scheme, Municipal Waste is "waste from households as well as other waste which, by its nature or composition, is similar to waste from households."

Urban waste presents some characteristics that distinguishes it from other waste, such as origin, production volume, composition, and management models. In addition, it is generated by a very large and dispersed number of producers (mainly domestic consumers), which poses challenges to its management.

The proper management of the produced waste can be measured, for example, by monitoring the distance to the “target for preparation for re-use and recycling" set in the Waste Framework Directive and supported by national legislation and by the PERSU 2020, destined to assess the amount of waste that has been processed for material recovery. 

Thus, waste management in mainland Portugal is currently based on the following solutions:

  • Separate collection of packaging waste, paper and other recoverable waste streams (door-to-door, ecopoints, ecocenters) for sorting and shipment to recycler;
  • Separate collection of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) for organic recovery through composting and/or anaerobic digestion processes;
  • Undifferentiated collection of municipal waste for shipment to Mechanical Treatment  and/or Mechanical and Biological Treatment  for later shipment to recycler or another recovery process;
  • Undifferentiated collection of urban waste for shipment to energy recovery (waste incineration);
  • Landfill waste deposition of non-recoverable fractions or direct deposition.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and shall be updated on an annual basis.

Objectives and targets: 
  • Promote the efficiency of the use of natural resources in the economy and dissociate economic growth from environmental impacts related to waste production;
  • Strengthen the prevention of waste production and foster its recycling in order to extend its use in the economy;
  • Increase the preparation for reuse, recycling and recyclables' quality;
  • Reduction of municipal waste landfill disposal;
  • To economically value and sell recyclables and by-products of municipal waste treatment;
  • The Strategic Plan for Municipal Solid Waste, PERSU 2020, establishes as waste prevention targets:
    • To achieve a minimum reduction of waste production per inhabitant of 10% by weight when compared to the value of 2012, by 31 December 2020;
  • As an incentive to the increase of recycling and separate collection, PERSU 2020 aimed at:
    • Achieving, by 2020, a weight increase of 50% in the preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste, including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, wood and biodegradable municipal waste
    • Achieving, by 2020, a reduction of 35% in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste deposited in landfill, compared to the quantities produced in 1995.
  • In 2018, EU approved a set of waste rules. The rules - based on Commission's proposals part of the Circular Economy package presented in December 2015 - will help to prevent waste and significantly step up recycling of municipal and packaging waste. They will also progressively phase out landfilling and promote the use of economic instruments, such as extended producer responsibility schemes. Concerning municipal waste it foresees:
    • The recycling targets for municipal waste are: 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035;
    • Stricter rules for calculating recycling rates;
    • A target for municipal waste landfilled: by 2035 the amount of municipal waste landfilled must be reduced to 10% or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated.
Progress analysis:
Last update: 
Friday, 10 September, 2021