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Economic and environmental impacts of the recycling system in Portugal

Ferreira, S., Cabral, M., da Cruz, Nuno F. ORCID: 0000-0003-3381-6359 and Marques, Rui Cunha (2014) Economic and environmental impacts of the recycling system in Portugal. Journal of Cleaner Production, 79. pp. 219-230. ISSN 0959-6526

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.05.026


The Directive 94/62/EC on Packaging and Packaging Waste led to new major investments in infrastructure and equipment for waste management in Portugal to cope with the imposed recycling and recovery targets. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the economic rate of return of the enhanced environmental protection achieved with the implementation of the recycling scheme. Therefore, we calculated, compared, and contrasted all economic and environmental costs and benefits involved in the Portuguese packaging waste recycling system. The economic-financial and environmental assessments were developed based on data collected from the operators in charge of the municipal waste management operations. The same system boundary was used in both assessments. The environmental impacts were quantified through a Life Cycle Assessment and, then, converted into monetary values by means of three environmental valuation methods: Ecovalue08, Eco-costs2012 and Stepwise2006. We concluded that, globally, the benefits surpassed the costs for the three valuation methods. The overall cost coverage ranges between 137% and 196% if the “avoided costs” component is considered. In fact, the refuse collection and waste disposal operations proved to be more costly (mainly in the environmental perspective) than the activities which prepare waste for recycling. The “avoided costs” component assumes an important role in promoting the efficiency of the Portuguese waste management operators (local authorities), reducing their economic costs and also the environmental damage.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: LSE Cities
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2014 11:06
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:54

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