To define some concepts and clarify doubts, you can probably find some of the more common questions and answers about the universe of Waste in our FAQ. For additional information, please contact us directly.
Why should I separate recyclable waste?
Citizens have a duty to actively take part in the proper triage (separation), conditioning, routing and deposition of waste. Through recycling waste that can be reused as raw material for producing new products, we are able to reduce the consumption of limited natural resources and reduce the need for more sanitary landfills. Separating waste for recovery allows you to store it at home longer, meaning fewer trips to recycling dumpsters and thus more time for you. Do your part to defend your interests and the environment. Consult your municipality’s regulations.
What are the advantages of recycling?
A lot of what we throw away is not garbage; they are resources that may potentially be reintroduced into the economic system and used to produce new products, materials or substances for the same finality. Reintroducing the resources contained in these end-of-life materials, which are then triaged and routed for recycling through selective collection, significantly reduces the amount of waste deposited in landfills. This in turn cuts down on the amount of natural resources consumed, less extraction of raw materials, less water consumption and electricity that is needed for the productive processes that are a part of waste recovery, and savings with public spending (less costs in collecting and treating waste).Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2020 more than half a million jobs related to waste recovery can be created, and end products that are wholly or partially made from waste are cheaper and more innovative.
How do you separate waste and where do you deposit it?
Each one of us should separate the “garbage” they produce depending on the type of material it is made from. We should properly condition it and deposit it in the right container. Individually and collectively we all gain from this: recycling allows for savings in the home, in the autarchies and on a national level.
a) Paper and cardboard – you should deposit all cardboard packaging, writing and wrapping paper, newspapers and magazines in the blue container at your Eco-Point. Paper should not be crumpled up so it does not take up more space, and boxes should be flattened.
b) Plastic and Metal – you should only deposit plastic bags and containers, tin, soda and spray cans, empty plastic oil bottles, clean Styrofoam, aluminum trays, empty aerosol cans and paper packaging for liquid food in the yellow container at your Eco-Point. Packages should be emptied and flattened. If necessary, to avoid bad odors, rinse them out first.
c) Glass – you should deposit bottles, jars and any glass container in the green container at your Eco-Point. The glass items should be emptied out and caps and corkscrews removed. If necessary, to avoid bad odors, rinse them out first.
d) Batteries – batteries and energy accumulators should be deposited in special containers called “Pilhões”, which are made available by the Autarchies at Eco-Points or Eco-Centers. They are also usually available at hyper and supermarkets, retail stores or other institutions.
e) Organic Waste – when possible, this type of waste (fruit and veggie scraps, clippings from the garden, ashes and any leftovers from agricultural activities) should be reused as organic compost (fertilizer). If not possible to recover this material, deposit it in the undifferentiated waste container.
f) Undifferentiated Waste – all waste that cannot be used for recovery through recycling or composting. Bags should be properly closed and conditioned to avoid bad odor and drawing insects and rodents. Some municipalities have developed solutions for routing other types of waste such as used cooking oils, cork stoppers, tires, tonners, and waste from electrical and electronic equipment, amongst others. Contact your municipality to find out where unconventional waste may be recovered.
What are contaminants?
Contaminants are materials that cannot be placed inside containers destined for recycling and then routed for waste recovery. Due to their characteristics, there are several materials that may mislead us to deposit them at Eco-Points. Be alert! If in doubt, consult the diagrams on each container or place waste in an undifferentiated container.
What are bulk items?
There are appliances, electronic equipment, old furniture and other waste that due to their characteristics or volume cannot be deposited at Eco-Points or in the container for undifferentiated waste. Eco-Points are equipped to receive some of this equipment but please check with your municipality. If you have purchased new appliances and/or electronic equipment, check to see what the steps for having the old equipment collected by the supplier are.
What to do with bulk items?
If you no longer have use for a large and/or bulk item, but it is still in good condition, check if family or friends might be interested in reusing it. Some Social Solidarity Institutes also collect these materials. Remember that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
If the large or bulk item is no longer in good condition, and reuse is not a viable option, you should contact your municipality to find out how to proceed. The door-to-door collection of this type of waste is available in many locations and is unusually free. Normally, the municipality has a toll-free number for booking the pick-up of items to ensure that the waste sits curbside for as short a time as possible.
When these bulk waste items result from the acquisition of a new appliance, you will always be able to return the old item to the store for free, as long as the used equipment is equivalent to the one purchased. This rule also applies to home deliveries.
What to do with old mobile phones?
When you buy a new mobile phone you should not throw the old one into an undifferentiated waste container. There are numerous entities that may collect them with clear advantages. Post offices, mobile phone operators, some parishes and City Halls are equipped with mechanisms for collecting this type of waste.
There are also campaigns available, where returning an old handset, gives you benefits in the acquisition of a new handset.
On the other hand, there are non-profit organizations that develop campaigns for canvassing these types of products for solidarity purposes, because in remote locations, mobile phones that no longer serve the needs of western society are the only alternative people in these places have for making phone calls.
The various components in a mobile phone can be recycled and transformed into new objects by salvaging prime raw materials such as cobalt, nickel, copper, gold and palladium.
Medicine you no longer need, as has expired, should be disposed of at your local pharmacy. They may not be deposited in containers or trash bins on the street because they contain substances that may contaminate the soil or water.
Where should you deposit domestic cooking oils?
In some municipalities there are large bins called “Oleões” for depositing used cooking oils (UCO) that are then recovered and transformed into biodiesel and other products (bio fuels, cosmetics and perfumes, candles and soap) thereby reducing the CO2 emissions released during its production. Aside from this, this procedure avoids other oils from being poured into the waste water drainage network. One liter of oil contaminates the same amount of water equivalent to that which is consumed by a person in 15 years.
What is Urban Solid Waste (USW)?
USW is the abbreviation for Urban Solid Waste, which in practice is the domestic garbage resulting from our day-to day activities as consumers. The term that descends from the commonly used word “garbage” is used more and more, because of its growing use as a raw material for various production processes that generate renovated raw materials (thermal insulation, textiles, glass, plastic).
What is selective waste collection?
Selective waste collection is the type that allows for the separated deposition of waste according to the type of material it is made from, and defines its recovery route for recycling. This approach is supported by a battery of specific containers on the street for each waste typology (Eco-Points), structures for receiving this waste free of charge (Eco-Centers) and door-to-door collection.
What is an Eco-center?
An Eco-center is public equipment, with controlled access, comprised of multi-material waste deposition cells designed to support selective deposition campaigns by voluntary transport. Normally, these strictures enable the deposition of waste categories not covered at Eco-Points (bulk items, appliances, wood, construction and demolition waste, rubble, tires, and green waste, amongst others). Some of these centers feature environmental education centers that are open to the public. Visit them.
Is taking waste to an Eco-center a paid service?
No. The use of Eco-centers by private citizens is completely free of charge.
What is a sanitary landfill?
A landfill is an installation for waste elimination used for the controlled deposition, above or below ground, which processes three distinct activities:
a) Ordered release of waste that is covered with soil or a similar material;
b) Systematic control of leachate water and gas produced from the waste degradation;
c) Monitoring the environmental impact both during and after the operation has been concluded.
After the landfill has been sealed, this space is usually reconverted into a public and recreational space and returned to the population.
Are sanitary landfills harmful for the environment?
No, if they comply with all the applicable laws and regulations there are no risks for the environment.
What is leachate?
Leachate is extremely polluted water that results from waste decomposition. As rain water runs through layers of waste, it also contributes towards producing leachate. This liquid requires specialized treatment before it percolates downward into groundwater.