The project iRec (Innovate Recycling), represents the commitment of Cascais Municipality towards the future in terms of preservation of the environment and achievement of SDGs. The municipality’s intent to preserve the ecosystem is based on an awareness that availability of resources on the planet is not unlimited and is not inexhaustible. As we are already in deficit with the planet, new measures are needed for the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy, and this process passes through recycling improvement.
In this context, iRec wants to define recycling targets but also to face several challenges, such as the involvement of society in recycling activities, which is of utmost importance to increase the recycling rate. The iRec project aims to change behaviours and will reward the right ones, thus anticipating the recycling targets that European legislation will increase by 2025. The conviction that underpins Cascais’ commitment is that everyone’s involvement is fundamental for the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy.
As well as an impact on awareness and knowledge, and obviously on the environment (reducing the amount of waste that is not collected and processed properly), iRec also achieved results from an economic point of view. The projects will reduce the cost of waste collection and separation. The equipment provided – the collection machines called reverse vending machines (RVMs) – allow a more efficient collection of waste that is already separated. The innovation is the approach to the management of single-use packaging, bringing together an experienced team of retailers, collection services, research centres and companies in the waste sector.
The RVM represents the incentive that was missing to attract citizens to recycle more and to change their behaviour regarding the consumption of drinks in single-use containers, because of the impact on the environment. The RVMs are attractive because when citizens return single-use containers made of glass, plastic or metal they know that, in the nearly future, this waste material will be reintroduced into the economy as new products, thus promoting the circular economy. For each glass, plastic and metal package returned to an RVM, participants receive points that can be converted into prizes.