2022 Challenges

The impact of the deposit refund scheme on the packaging recycling system
The impact of the deposit refund scheme on the packaging recycling system

The new deposit refund scheme has not yet come into operation on a large scale, at the national level, but the effects have already begun to be felt in the packaging recycling system, because of the pilot projects that have been developed throughout the country.

Electrão has integrated one of these pilot projects - "MAFRA Reciclar a Valer +" - in collaboration with several partners. The project, which ran over 14 months until June 2022, globally enabled the collection of more than 2.5 million used beverage packaging, equivalent to 71 tons. In total, in 2022, more than 90,000 euros in incentives were distributed.

This model, complementary to the traditional recycling bins, allows leveraging the recycling of cans and plastic bottles, up to three liters, as it involves the consumer through incentives, such as discounts in the supermarket.

At the operational level, this system allows the collection of material with high quality and low contamination index, boosting the circular economy.

Compensation: the search for the financial balance of the system
Compensation: the search for the financial balance of the system

When recycling systems operate in competition there is a need to promote mass and financial balance between the different Producer Responsibility Organizations.

This mission is currently a task of CAGER, which is the entity that defines, regulates, and supervises the allocation and compensation mechanism between Producer Responsibility Organizations of the various specific waste streams.

The commission fulfills its role in the allocation, but not in financial compensation.

Currently, the volume that Electrão has to receive from its competitors, which is due as compensation for the result of previous years, amounts to two million euros.

It is important to find a model that allows compensation decisions, which are not being complied with between agents, to take effect.

One option could be a security deposit or a bank guarantee. Another solution would be to abandon the logic of compensation by setting pragmatic, achievable goals, which are not necessarily the national collection targets, imputing them to the Producer Responsibility Organizations that participate in each system, and penalizing the non-compliance with these objectives.

It is urgent to find a way to ensure the financial stability of the collection and recycling system.

Direct management of hazardous plastics from recycling
Direct management of hazardous plastics from recycling

Electrão promotes an innovative project, a pioneer in Portugal, to separate, during the recycling process, plastics with hazardous substances in used electrical equipment, namely plastics containing flame retardants, which are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The project, called "Control of Mixed Plastics and Flame Retardants", has the collaboration of Interecycling and AVE, two of the main national waste treatment operators.

Mixed plastics, the subject of the project, are considered hazardous because they contain flame-retardant agents, which are mixtures of chemicals added to a wide range of products to make them less flammable. This includes some plastics used in electrical equipment, especially small household appliances, computers, communication and technology equipment, and older televisions. Flame retardants are persistent, bio accumulative, and toxic polluting chemicals for man and the environment.

Currently, as follows from European directives, the manufacture of new electrical equipment already considers the restriction of hazardous chemicals. The new generation of equipment already considers these expected limits, with less impact, safeguarding the same characteristics of resistance to heat and fire, which has been possible due to the research and technical development promoted by several manufacturers.

The initiative stems from the requirements defined by national and European legislation but is also a response to the need to optimize processes and improve recycling targets. 

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