The situation harms the country and the circular economy, Sciaena, focused on promoting the improvement of the marine environment, Zero and ANP/WWF (Associação Natureza Portugal, which represents the international World Wide Fund for Nature in Portugal) warned in a statement.

To raise awareness on the waste of resources, whether plastic, glass or metal packaging, the three organisations organised on Monday evening a public projection of images of abandoned packaging contributing to pollution, collected in different parts of the country. To the images, projected at Luís de Camões Square, in Lisbon, the environmentalists added a banner with the slogan "No more delays!”

The deposit system with return (SDR) for disposable packaging of plastic, glass, aluminium and ferrous metals was approved by the Portuguese Parliament in 2018 and should be operational at the beginning of 2022 but the organisations estimate that it should not be operational before January 2023.

The organisations recall the approval of the law at the end of 2018, by a large majority, and explain, in a statement, why they are concerned. The law has not yet been regulated nor are there "any signs" that it will be and European legislation requires a period of at least one year, after regulation, for it to come into force.

"As the implementation of the SDR is already expected to be delayed by a year at this point, this will mean the waste of around 1.5 billion packages! The Minister (of the Environment) Matos Fernandes must act quickly to ensure that there will be no further delays", stress the organisations.

They explain that if four million containers are wasted every day, that means that in a year, 1.473.609.427 drinks containers (the equivalent of 250 Towers of Belém, according to environmentalists) "will go to landfill, be incinerated or spread in the environment".

So, they add, it's necessary to act urgently, because doing nothing is "contrary to the Government's official discourse". Then, they also say, the law is from 2018 so it cannot be argued that there was no time to address the issue, and in addition there is an "effective loss for the country", which is "highly dependent" on the import and use of virgin raw materials for the manufacture of plastic, glass and metal beverage packaging.

"The SDR is a fundamental tool for the fulfilment of several EU targets (recycling and reuse)" and "the Portuguese have already shown, in several representative studies, their broad support for this idea, and look forward to its implementation", stress the organisations.

Sciaena, Zero and ANP/WWF call for urgent action from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action, to regulate the law even before the summer, and alert the Portuguese Parliament for the delay in regulating the law.