FAQ - Recycling

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What is the 3 Rs Policy?

The 3 Rs Policy consists of a group of measures adopted in 1992, in the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, as well as in the Fifth European Community Environment Programme of 1993.
 
The 3 Rs mean Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
 
Firstly and more importantly, we need to reduce the amount of waste produced, in order to minimise its impacts on the environment.
We can also reuse materials in order to extend their service life and prevent waste production, considering that some materials can be used several times. To reuse means to use again what was considered to be garbage, avoiding its elimination.
 
When there's no other option, waste must be sorted for recycling. Recycling means transforming waste, whether back into its original form or into another product, in order to reintroduce it to the market. Recycling saves energy, raw materials and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills or incineration facilities.
 
What should you do?
 
Reduce:
 buy only essential products;
 prefer bulk, economy size, rechargeable and recyclable products;
 avoid using plastic bags offered in supermarkets.

Reuse:
 transform packages into toys or decorative items;
 reuse glass jars or plastic bottles;
 transform waste into works of art.

Recycle:
 sort waste (glass, paper and cardboard, plastic, metal and batteries) and place it in the eco-containers. 
 
 

Where do the materials I sort and place in eco-containers go to? Is it true that the materials put in eco-containers are all mixed up inside the collection vehicle?  

A very common question among citizens is if materials are mixed up after being sorted by them. People often have the misconception that paper/cardboard and packaging are mixed up inside the collection vehicle. There's also the misconception that recyclable materials are mixed up with unsorted waste. The following explanation will hopefully demystify these false ideas:
 
The recyclable materials disposed of in eco-containers, which are placed near public roads, are collected by proper vehicles (usually, with a crane), which are not prepared for the collection of unsorted waste (placed in the conventional 4 wheel green containers for unsorted waste; this is collected by vehicles with tilt devices and compaction systems).
 
In case of deep collection eco-containers (molok), materials are also collected by vehicles with cranes; in this case, the vehicles are similar to those used for the collection of deep collection containers for unsorted waste, but the similarities are limited to the type of vehicle.
 
All recyclable materials collected from public road eco-containers or moloks are transported to Lipor's Sorting Plant, by proper vehicles and through specific circuits, and no materials are mixed up (with the exception of materials mixed up by citizens due to lack of knowledge or carelessness);
 
All cargo that comes from eco-containers is inspected, according to the regulations of the Quality, Environmental and Safety Certification of the Sorting Plant.
 
The unsorted waste is sent to Lipor II (Energy Recovery Plant) and the reception process is similar to that of the Sorting Plant, because the Energy Recovery Plant also has a Quality, Environmental and Safety Certification.
 
With this process we ensure that recyclable materials from eco-containers are properly transported to the Sorting Plant without being mixed up with unsorted waste. For optimisation reasons, some vehicles collect 2 different types of recyclable materials (e.g. paper and packaging), however, the materials are placed in different compartments and discharged in different areas at the Sorting Plant.
Lastly, recyclable waste should always be placed inside the eco-containers (or collected through specific circuits, such as door-to-door circuits) and not near the containers, on the floor (often near containers for unsorted waste), as they may be collected as unsorted waste, because the type of vehicles used for the collection of recyclable waste (with cranes) don't allow the collection of waste placed outside the eco-containers.
 
 

What can I do to participate in Recycling? 

An active and engaged participation of consumers in the recycling process starts at home, by separating used packages according to the type of material: plastic and metal, paper and cardboard, glass and wood. Packaging waste should then be placed in the proper containers provided by local authorities. In Portugal, there has been an gradual implementation of equipments which allow consumers to participate in the selective collection, such as: eco-containers, drop-off sites and specific baskets or bags for door-to-door collection. 

 

What products result from the recycling of used packaging? 

The recycling of used packaging consists of the reprocessing and use of those materials for the production of new products, with or without the addition of raw materials, in a practically endless cycle.
 
Recycling allows us to recover packaging materials (which would otherwise have a shorter life cycle) and produce several products we use on a daily basis: transport pallets, coating and boards for construction works and bricolage, clothing, fibres for padding, high quality metal bars, parts for household appliances (such as water heaters and stoves), new bottles and jars, new packages, books, newspapers, writing paper, high quality flat or corrugated cardboard, toilet paper, garden furniture, pots, tubes, particle boards for the production of furniture, among others. 
 

How can my participation in environmental protection become easier? 

Use two bins for your domestic waste: one for organic waste (food scraps) and another for plastic and metal packages. Due to their larger dimensions, glass packages can be stored, for instance, in a balcony, pantry or storeroom. Paper and cardboard can be stored in any room, for instance, inside a cardboard box, as they don't release odours. You should flatten paper and cardboard packaging, in order to reduce their volume and increase storage capacity, thus reducing the number of times you have to go to the eco-container. Whenever possible, you should empty the packages completely and flatten them, so that they take up less space. If you think it's necessary, you can wash them to avoid unpleasant odours. Wood packages should also be separated, but these can only be disposed of in drop-off sites. 

 

How can I sort my used packages? 

The first step to recycling is the domestic separation of used packages according to the type of material (metal and plastic, paper/cardboard, glass and wood). For a proper separation of packaging waste, please follow the instructions given by your local authority, available in collection equipments and other information sources. You can also consult disposal tips regarding the different materials and other useful information here

What happens to the used packaging we place in eco-containers and other selective collection equipments?

Local authorities provide vehicles which collect and transport used packages to a Sorting Plant, where they are rigorously sorted according to the type of material. For instance, ferrous metals are separated from non-ferrous metals; plastics are separated according to substance (PVC, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, PS, among others). Sorting ensures the uniformity and quality needed for recycling. After this selection process, packaging waste is baled according to the type of material and Sociedade Ponto Verde sends it to recycling companies. 

 

What are the advantages of Recycling? 

Recycling used packages has several environmental and economic advantages:
 
 Energy savings;
 Decrease in use of raw materials and preservation of natural resources;
 Decrease in the amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) that goes to landfills, thus increasing the service life of these infrastructures. 

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