Portugal warms to waste oil regeneration

Government performs "U-turn" after blocking opposition parties' plan for recycling plant

The Portuguese government yesterday said that it would urgently study the setting up of a new plant to regenerate waste motor oils. The announcement was made by the national institute for waste, which is attached to the environment ministry.

The development comes only a fortnight after Portugal's governing parties blocked an opposition legislative initiative to create a waste oil collection and regeneration infrastructure (ENDS Daily 31 October). Portugal currently faces condemnation in the European Court of Justice for failing to give a high enough priority to regeneration of waste oils (ENDS Daily 11 December 1998).

All interested parties will now meet before the end of November to draw up "in a matter of months" a plan of action for the management of waste oils including the possible establishment of a regeneration plant, according to institute for waste director, Dulce Pássaro.

Unlike the proposals put forward by the right-of-centre opposition Social Democratic Party in October, the new plans do not entirely rule out incineration of waste oils as fuel and envisage leaving management in the hands of the private sector. Ms Pássaro told ENDS Daily that various companies had expressed an interest, but that "there would have to be a minimum capacity for such a plant to be viable". She added that the government was also considering levying a tax on new motor oils to subsidise the collection of waste.

Environmental group Quercus reacted positively to the institute's announcement, saying that it was suspending its threat to make a formal complaint over government inaction on this issue to the European Commission. A spokesperson expressed "cautious optimism" and described the decision as a "government U-turn".

Follow Up:
Portuguese environment ministry, tel: +351 21 842 4000; Quercus, tel: +351 21 778 8474.

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