Recycling of packaging waste

The "Recycling of packaging waste" fact sheet measures the quantity of packaging waste recovered in Portugal, by material and in total.

As a result of the increasing importance in quantitative terms, packaging is considered a specific waste stream, with its management being carried out in a differentiated way, through the creation of specific legislation, which introduces a co-responsibility for all stakeholders in the packaging life cycle.

The scope of packaging waste includes packaging from the municipal waste stream and packaging from the non-municipal waste stream, in this case, industrial and non-reusable packaging.

The municipal packaging waste stream is managed by separate collection, through voluntary deposition systems or door-to-door collection, as well as by the sorting of packaging waste that is withdrawn through infrastructures receiving waste from undifferentiated collection. These circuits are provided by the management entities, Sociedade Ponto Verde (SPV), Novo Verde and Electrão, in articulation with the multi-municipal and inter-municipal systems of waste management.

"Recycling" means any recovery operation, including the reprocessing of organic materials, by which the constituent materials of waste are again transformed in products, materials or substances for their original purpose or for other purposes but which do not include energy recovery or reprocessing of materials that should be used as fuel or in filling operations.

In recycling, as in packaging waste production, all wastes from the municipal waste stream are included, accounting for separately collected waste as well as packaging waste withdrawn through infrastructures receiving waste from undifferentiated collection.

The remaining quantities of packaging waste come from the non-municipal waste stream, where the responsibility for sending them for recycling lies with the producers of the waste itself, through waste management operators contracted and licensed for that purpose.

It is important to highlight that there are other packaging waste management circuits, namely VALORMED, which collects waste packaging of medical products, and SIGERU which collects packaging waste from plant protection products, whose contribution to the total quantity is negligible, but whose role in the diversion of packaging waste currently or previously containing products considered hazardous from the municipal circuit is essential.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores and shall be updated on an annual basis.

Objectives and targets: 
  • Increase overall and sectoral collection, recycling and recovery rates for the different packaging waste materials and meet the established targets.
  • Portugal maintains its commitment to achieving the packaging waste recovery and recycling targets (established by the Decree-Law no. 152-D/2017, in its current wording, which transposes into the internal legal system the Directive 94/62/EC), which consist of meeting, by the end of 2011, a minimum recovery of 60% (in weight), of which at least 55% must correspond to recycling, with minimum sectoral recycling targets of:
    • 60% for paper/cardboard packaging waste;
    • 60% for glass packaging waste;
    • 50% for metal packaging waste;
    • 22.5% for plastic packaging waste;
    • 15% for wood packaging waste.
  • In the field of recycling, Directive 2018/852 lays down a common objective for Member States to prepare to reuse and recycle 65% of packaging waste, until 2025, with the following goals differentiated by materials:
    • 75% paper/cardboard;
    • 70% glass;
    • 70% ferrous metals (steel);
    • 50% aluminium;
    • 50% plastic;
    • 25% wood.
  • By 31 December 2030, at least 70% by weight of all packaging waste should be recycled with the following material targets:
    • 85% paper/cardboard;
    • 75% glass;
    • 80% ferrous metals (steel);
    • 60% aluminium;
    • 55% plastic;
    • 30% wood.
Progress analysis:

In 2019, packaging waste from the municipal stream accounted for about 41% of the total recycled quantity.

Last update: 
Monday, 20 September, 2021