Empresa Geral do Fomento (EGF Group) provides waste management services to 6.3 million people—around 60% of Portugal’s population — and manages about 65% of municipal waste generated in the country.
Compliance with EU Directives and national environmental legislation and meeting the recycling targets was a challenge for the company. The company’s treatment facilities could no longer keep up with the needs of Portugal’s growing municipalities.
“There was a clear need to develop the potential of the circular economy in the solid waste sector, however EGF lacked the necessary investments to step-up its efforts at diverting waste from landfill disposal,” says Dimitra Panayides, a loan officer at the European Investment Bank.
EGF turned to its long-time partner, the European Investment Bank, to help implement an ambitious plan to revamp its waste treatment plants. The plan helps EGF to improve its service in the north of Portugal, a part of the country less developed, that benefits from EU cohesion policies. It also aims to develop a new way of recycling packaging waste and to produce renewable energy from biowaste.
“The EGF project, financed by the EIB, is of vital importance for the North of Portugal,” says Emídio Pinheiro, president of EGF. “It enables us to reduce the amount of urban waste sent to landfills without any prior treatment, and to strengthen the recycling performance through selective collection routes.”
Collecting separately all solid waste at the source
Before 2021, the waste deposited in these landfills complied with all necessary controls but with barely any treatment. Now, there’s a new plant called the Resulima Waste Recovery Unit, which treats, recovers and disposes municipal waste.
“Before, solid waste used to be put into landfills without any prior treatment apart from the mandatory controls,” says Rui Silva, executive administrator of the Resulima unit.
Valuable resources and energy weren’t recovered and the landfills were a nuisance to local residents. With the new waste management plant, EGF automatically separates waste from the moment it arrives at the landfill.
“The main difference with our new process is that all urban waste is run through the mechanical treatment unit,” says Silva. “It separates everything that can be recycled and processes biowaste. This ensures that we can treat all the waste generated by the population, separating what can be recycled and what can’t, right at the point of origin.”
The new plant, which will serve as a model for others, helps EGF keep pace with population growth and serve a greater number of rural regions.