Policy areas

Organisation name Câmara Municipal de Cascais

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Contact person: Paula Borges de Moura, Técnica Superior

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.

The commitment of the Municipality of Cascais to the SDGs and to future generations, and the involvement and support of the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment, are guarantees for this project to continue beyond EPSA. iRec is part of a larger programme known as Environment, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy. By focusing on increasing waste collection rates, promoting the reuse of recyclable materials in the production of goods and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, iRec is a project that will not end in the short term.

After 2022, iRec will continue, not as a pilot project, but as a concrete policy that will contribute to a future with less air, soil and water pollution due to the reduction of waste sent to landfills. The increasing gearing in the circular economy will generate, in Cascais, more than 5000 workplaces, many of them linked to the tourism sector, which is also intended to be sustainable.

The major investment was made with the implementation and operationalisation of the project, and this was co-financed by EEA grants. In the future, it is expected that the costs of this project will be diluted in the budget for selective waste collection. By responding to the challenges of recycling and reusing plastic, glass or metal packaging, the iRec – Innovate Recycling – project will always have a future in a municipality that wants to be more sustainable.

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