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Recycling can generate more than 5,000 jobs

These calculations were made based on the assumption that Portugal will meet the community recycling targets for various waste streams and that, simultaneously, the existing legislation for this sector will be fulfilled.

Among the recycling activities that can most help to achieve this goal are the selective collection and sorting of urban waste with about 2500 jobs, the biological treatment of urban waste with 1000, the recycling of construction and demolition waste (RCD) with 500, the collection and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) with 700, the plastic recycling industry with 400, the selective collection and recycling of waste from trade and services with 300 and the recycling of sludge from domestic WWTP with 100.

Thus, for urban waste, starting from a current recycling rate of 21.3% (*) and to reach the community target of 55% in 2025, it is concluded that Portugal has to recycle an additional 1.8 million tons, of which about 800 thousand will be recyclable such as plastic, glass, paper and metals and 1 million will be organic waste, having estimated that it will be necessary to create around 3500 jobs to achieve this goal.

In the case of RCDs, it is estimated that in Portugal about 5 million tons of this waste stream are produced annually, of which only 5% are recycled, that is, there is a recycling potential of 4.9 million tons, being that recycling at least half of this waste can lead to the creation of around 500 jobs.

For WEEE, the data available for 2019 (tenders launched by the entities managing this flow) indicate that at most around 50 thousand tons were collected and recycled, when the community target was 105 thousand, so that 55 thousand tons are missing which, if be properly treated, they may create 700 new jobs.

In the case of plastics, the production of this waste with domestic origin is around 600 thousand tons per year, and currently only 72 thousand tons are recycled, which means that by 2025 another 258 thousand have to be recycled to meet the target. 55% recycling, which will result in the creation of 400 more new jobs.

For waste originating from trade and services, considered to be equivalent to urban waste, but which is not collected by municipalities, but by private companies and is mainly destined for incineration or landfill, a production of 300 thousand tons was estimated per year, so the recycling of 55% of this waste will allow to create about 300 jobs related to selective collection, sorting of recyclables and treatment of the fraction of organic waste.

Finally, in the case of WWTP sludge, at least 150 thousand tons have been identified that are not being adequately treated, so the routing of this waste and its treatment in composting units can give rise to around 100 new jobs.

In conclusion, it can be said that there is a potential to create 5,500 jobs through recycling, not to mention several streams of recyclable waste for which it has not yet been possible to assess this potential.

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