Recycling - specific waste streams

The "Recycling - specific waste streams" fact sheet compares the annual recycling rates with the national targets set for the various specific waste streams.

One of the objectives of the integrated environmental policy is the attribution of total or partial, physical and/or financial responsibility to the producer for the environmental impacts associated with the corresponding products, namely those resulting from the production process and the subsequent use of the product, and those associated with product management when it reaches the end of its life cycle.

The life cycle of a given material usually comprises five phases: Raw material extraction (resource), production (product), trading, consumption and management as waste.

In practice, producer accountability - which translates into the obligation to take back and recover materials and meet quantified reuse/recycling targets - encourages him to change the design of his product. Such strategy normally has an impact on the eco-efficiency of products (use of smaller quantities of raw material or use of recyclable/recycled materials, among others), as well as in its eco design (easier to dismantle or recycle, lower hazardous substance content, among others).

Furthermore, producer accountability has the advantage of triggering a chain reaction, throughout the production-trade-consumption-post-consumption cycle, in which every player passes on some of his responsibility to the next player in the chain. As an essential part of this system, there are waste management entities, which allow these different players to work together in the pursuit of common objectives.

The producer's responsibility can be assumed individually or through the establishment of an integrated system. As an essential part of this latter system, specific waste stream management entities were created, allowing for very specific interfaces between the different players in the product life cycle (product producer, product retailer/distributor, waste producer, waste management operator) for the pursuit of common objectives. In this case, the producer of the product transfers responsibility for managing the specific waste stream to these management entities, through the payment of an annual financial amount (ecovalor).

These are the basic reasons why, in recent years, both at national and EU level, we have witnessed the emergence of integrated waste management systems, which, in our country, are already in place for the following specific waste streams: packaging and packaging waste, used oils, used tyres, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and accumulators and end-of-life vehicles.

"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.

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 the recycling rates obtained annually for each stream, in order to meet the national targets set forth in the specific legislation and identified below.

As can be seen in the following table, the recycling targets to be reached and their calculation methods vary from stream to stream, due to the specificities associated with each one, and the results obtained are not comparable between streams.


Specific waste stream Deadline Benchmark and recycling target
Packaging and Packaging Waste 31 December 2011 55% of packaging waste production
Used lubricant oils 31 December 2011 75% of collected used lubricant oils
Used tyres January 2007 69% of used tyres collected and not rethreaded
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste 31 December 2006 Categories 1 and 10: 75% of the average weight per device collected
Categories 3 and 4: 65% of the average weight per device collected
Categories 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9: 50% (and 80% for gas discharge lamps) of the average weight per appliance collected
15 August 2015 Categories 1 (large household appliances) and 10 (automatic dispensers): 80% of the weight of WEEE fractions that enter the recycling/preparation for reuse facilities, over the weight of WEEE collected
Categories 3 (computer and telecommunications equipment) and 4 (consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels): 70% of the weight of WEEE fractions that enter the recycling/preparation for reuse facilities, over the weight of WEEE collected
Categories 2 (small electrical appliances), 5 (lighting equipment), 6 (electrical and electronic tools (except for large-sized fixed industrial tools)), 7 (toys and sports and leisure equipment), 8 (medical devices (except for all products implanted and infected)) and 9 (monitoring and control instruments): 55% (and 80% of gas discharge lamps) of the weight of WEEE fractions that enter the recycling/preparation for reuse facilities, over the weight of WEEE collected
End-of-Life Vehicles 1 January 2006 Reuse and recycling of all ELVs at least 80% in weight, on average, per vehicle and per year
January 2015 Reuse and recycling of all ELVs at least 85% in weight, on average, per vehicle and per year
Construction and Demolition Waste 2020 Reuse, recycling and recovery, including filling operations (excluding natural materials outlined in category 17 05 04 of the waste list) of at least 70%, of non-hazardous CDW, in weight and per year


Waste streams from Batteries and Accumulators and Used Food Oils have no established recycling goal. However, there is a target for the collection of waste streams from Batteries and Accumulators, defined in the Community directive and national legislation, whose value is 45%, to be fulfilled until 31 December 2015, remaining unchanged until the present.

Progress analysis:
Last update: 
Tuesday, 2 July, 2019