Ministry of Environment’s delay in regulating the deposit system harms the country and the circular economy

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Yesterday, ANP|WWF, Sciaena and ZERO organized a projection action at Largo do Camões, in Lisbon, in order to alert to the huge waste of resources resulting from the delay in the implementation of the Deposit Return System (DRS) for disposable packaging. In every day of delay, Portugal wastes 4 million disposable beverage packages in plastic, glass and metal.
As at this moment, a delay of one year in the implementation of the SDR is already foreseen, it will imply the waste of about 1500 million packages, which is equivalent to the volume of 250 Belém Towers! Minister Matos Fernandes must act quickly to ensure that there will be no further delays!

What the law says
According to Law No. 69/2018, approved in the Assembly of the Republic at the end of 2018 by a large majority of political parties (PSD, PS, BE, CDS-PP, PAN voted in favor and PCP and PEV abstained), a return system for disposable beverage packaging should be in place as from January 2022.
However, as there are still no signs of approval of the DRS and considering that the European legislation requires a minimum period of one year, after the regulation, for the organization of the system (a period that we consider reasonable and necessary), the Portuguese DRS will only enter into functioning, at best, in January 2023.
This scenario implies that, with the daily waste of 4 million packages, for each year of delay there will be a loss of 1 473 609 427 (practically 1500 million) of beverage packages, which will go to landfill, will be incinerated or will remain scattered in the environment.
This wasteful scenario is already a certainty, at this moment, the result of the inability (or unwillingness) of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action to proceed with the process in a timely manner and taking into account the time provided by European legislation to ensure the implementation of the DRS.

It is necessary to act urgently
The ANP | WWF, Sciaena and ZERO consider this situation unacceptable and incomprehensible, as:
– It is contrary to the official speech of the Government and in particular of the Minister of Environment and Climate Action João Matos Fernandes in support of Circular Economy and carbon neutrality.
– The Law exists since 2018, so it is not possible to argue that there was no time or opportunity to prepare this file in a proper way.
– It represents an effective loss for the country, which is highly dependent on the import and use of virgin materials for the manufacture of plastic, glass and metal beverage packaging (area where the SDR can make an important contribution to providing quality materials for later use in food packaging after recycling).
– It keeps all this waste as a cost to the municipalities, which must either send it to landfill or incineration, in addition to having higher costs of cleaning up the public space, instead of applying these funds in other areas of action of the municipalities.
– The DRS is a fundamental tool for achieving several community goals (recycling and reuse).
– The Portuguese have already demonstrated, in several representative studies, their broad support for this idea, and are eager to see it implemented.

NGO appeal
Faced with this delay with environmental and economic costs for everyone, ANP|WWF, Sciaena and ZERO call for urgent action by the MAAC to regulate the Law even before the summer, as well as to the Assembly of the Republic to carry out a proactive and assertive scrutiny of a Law approved by it, which is clearly being disrespected.
ANP|WWF, Sciaena and ZERO have been following the theme of DRS in Portugal and consider that its implementation is urgent, as shown in the Law (with the inclusion of plastic, glass and metal packaging), as only this way will Portugal be able to to fulfill its obligations to the European Union and to promote, in fact, the Circular Economy that it advocates.

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