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Challenges in municipal solid waste management-A comparative case study between selected metropolitan areas Brazil and Portugal

MOJ Ecology & Environmental Sciences
Ana Gama,1 Mário Russo2


This research was aimed at analysing the management of urban solid waste in Brazil and Portugal, with an emphasis on the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and the Recife/PE/Brazil Metropolitan Area. An exploratory research project was conducted with a survey of secondary data, technical visits to institutions and companies in the waste sector, and a comparative analysis of the situation in the areas studied. In Portugal, the management of municipal solid waste in the period before 1995 was predominantly municipal, which evolved into a consortium of municipalities with the entry of Portugal into the European Union in 1986. The country adapted its legislation to the EU Directives, and from 1997, the waste sector suffered a boost with the adoption of the first Strategic Plan for Urban Solid Waste, which was constituted by 40 public waste management companies that associated several municipalities, and some of them also had the state's share in their share capital. However, due to the lack of economic scale of some of these companies, there were mergers, and at the end of 2010, the total number of companies was 23, grouped into entities of a multi-municipal character (when the state enters into the composition of the share capital of the society) and inter-municipal (only constituted by municipalities), currently responsible for the management of waste in Portugal. In Brazil, the National Solid Waste Policy was approved by law in 2010, establishing lines and guidelines for integrated waste management with defined time targets. However, it is not yet fully implemented because about 45% of municipalities still dispose of waste at dumping sites. With regard to the municipalities of the Recife Metropolitan Area, the disposal of waste has already been environmentally appropriate since 2019. According to 2022 data from Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies, the average rate of selective collection in the country is approximately 4%. The research results reveal that Brazil needs to increase selective collection, eliminate approximately 3,600 existing landfills and finally regulate urban solid waste services. While in Portugal, management is well organized as a result of the implementation of PERSU in 1995, there are still challenges to be overcome in order to meet the goals set in the New Legislative Framework, which have not yet been achieved. The specificities and the context are obviously different between the countries, drawing attention to the difference in effectiveness in the implementation of public policies edited by the legal diplomas of the two countries for solid waste management.


Municipal solid waste (MSW) Management; Public policy; Metropolitan Areas of Recife (Brazil), Porto and Lisbon (Portugal), circular economy