Industrial Ecology and Portugal's National Waste Plans

Paulo Ferrão, António Lorena, and Paulo Ribeiro

Abstract This chapter explores how industrial ecology concepts and tools were used to support the design of waste management systems and policies in Portugal. The focus is on a set of case studies that illustrate the results of a successful cooperation between government, private institutions, and academia to transform waste into a useful resource for socio-economic development.

The “Relvão Eco Industrial Park”, an industrial symbiosis case study, is analyzed, showing that it was possible to build from scratch a large number of synergies between companies, creating over 300 local jobs and attracting an investment of over €19 million to a region which was industrially undeveloped.

The partnership between the Portuguese Environment Agency and IST to develop the National Waste Management Plan enabled design of a policy instrument that explicitly identified the need for a life-cycle approach to underpin waste management policies and that supported a circular economy to contribute to increasing resource efficiency.

The recent national strategy for urban waste management (PERSU 2020), developed in 2014, is the latest case study of cooperation between academia and the government to develop a public policy whose results show that the proposed changes will lead to a major qualitative leap in the environmental and economic performance of the sector by 2020. It is estimated that the net GHG emissions will be reduced by 47 %, as demonstrated by an LCA study promoted to support policy development. These benefits are due not only to reduction of the quantity sent to landfill, especially the biodegradable fractions, but also to the expected increase in MSW recycling resulting from the increase of selective collection and more efficient treatment and recovery of mixed wastes. An hybrid input-output model, i.e. with both monetary and mass flows, that explicitly considers seven types of waste, showed that the new policy will allow for increasing the economic added value of the urban waste management system by 26 % to €451million and that the number of direct and indirect jobs will increase to 13,000 and 5,500, respectively.

The evidence reported in this chapter shows that the cooperation between government, academia and private sector in Portugal, based on industrial ecology principles and tools, has been able to significantly improve waste management performance in Portugal since the late 1990s, making the sector an important actor of the green economy, by combining better environmental performance with economic growth and job creation, critical dimensions for enabling sustainable development.

Keywords Waste • Industrial symbiosis • LCA • Hybrid input-output analysis • Waste management policy

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