We're not Recycling

...yes it's sadly true 😞


12/14/20232 min read

When it comes to recycling, we're not short of facilities in Portugal. The country has over 40,500+ ecopontos (local recycling points) serving its population of 10.3million.

Sadly, even with such accessible resources, the country's recycling rate was a mere 26.5% in 2020, significantly under its 2025 target of 55%. Did you know that the waste on Portugal beaches, almost 3 million pieces of it is plastic!!?

Although recycling rates have increased within the EU, experts warn the rate is slowing down. In 2020, the average EU citizen generated 4.8 tonnes of waste, but only 38% was recycled, leaving more than 60% household waste going to landfill in some states.

We can do more, and heres how...

1. Use your Ecoponto!

It may seem obvious but it's clear we're not using the facilities we have. Yes it's easier to

brown concrete building near body of water during daytime
brown concrete building near body of water during daytime

throw everything into one bag, but making that effort to separate our waste can really make a difference. And with ecopontos around 50m from any home in Portugal, we have no excuse not to recycle, especially as plastic, metal, glass, paper/card and food waste is collected daily! Some offer clothes and used cooking oil disposal also.

2. Use your local supermarkets

The main supermarkets like Continente and Pingo Doce offer specialised recycling collections such as cork, small electrical items, and batteries. Again, supermarkets are usually near residential areas, meaning we don't have far to go to dispose of items which are not collected at the ecopontos.

3. Sell

Sell your items online or at local secondhand markets. For selling online consider Facebook Marketplace or OLX Portugal. FleaMarket Porto and Marketplace Casual Style are two main groups that hold bi-weekly markets during the warmer months in Porto. Check for local groups in/near your area.

4. Give it away

'One man's waste is another man's treasure', this is so true. So before you throw something away, even if it's broken, consider giving it away. Look for local groups that offer/giveaway items for free. I used many when living in the UK, but here in Porto there's less. But this Facebook group is a great one serving the greater Porto area. Nothing is too big or small to give away 😀.

5. Donate

Consider contacting an NGO (non government organisation) or local secondhand shops, many take donations and can collect items such as furniture and working electrical goods. For clothes, ask at secondhand clothing stores if they take donations or alternatively speak with local organisations that work with/support immigrants. As part of the services they offer, offering clothing to people who have come to Portugal with very little is one vital aid.

6. Swap/Exchange

Innovative organisations are enabling us to improve our carbon footprint further, like Let's Swap. It holds monthly 'swap markets', where you can exchange your unwanted clothes and books. The movement raises awareness around fast fashion, whilst its principle objective is 'to provide anyone with the opportunity to purchase new pieces based on a non-monetary exchange'. Although started in Porto, Let's Swap runs the 'swap markets' in Portugal’s main cities.