ALGAR, the company responsible for collecting recyclables (cardboard, glass and plastic) at eco-points across the Algarve, has been the object of significant criticism and dissatisfaction as its lack of service continues.
The increasing number of complaints made by residents and tourists is a considerable concern for Municipalities across the region, which are faced daily with eco-pontos (ecological islands) overflowing with bottles, plastics, glass and paper scattered on public roads surrounding the equipment.
The population’s discontent is widespread, and their criticism is fair. “As a reference for urban cleaning, and in particular with one of the highest recycling rates in the country, the Municipality of Portimão has come to be seen as a municipality where recyclables accumulate in the street, given the insufficient collection of the same, projecting an image of slovenliness and lack of cleanliness in public spaces”, says the Municipality in a statement.
“After several months of complaints and daily diligences, ALGAR continuously stated it would improve its service, having even hired an external entity – SUMA – to increase its collection capacity in the areas of most significant impact in the Municipality of Portimão. Despite these measures, the collection of selective waste in Portimão has not improved. On the contrary, there has been a degradation of the service provided in some areas,” laments the Portimão City Council. It is a situation causing great concern, causing unsanitary problems, aggravated by the high temperatures that have been felt this summer.
As such, to alleviate the problem, and although it is not its responsibility, the Portimão City Council mandated the municipal company EMARP to further reinforce the daily collection of recyclable waste deposited around the eco-points, as well as to clean and wash the locations where the said equipment is installed, to guarantee the necessary health conditions.
The municipal company was also asked to start negotiations with ALGAR to hire EMARP for operational support for the selective collection of recyclable packaging. The Municipality, therefore, intends that EMARP, which ensures the collection of undifferentiated waste, may also be responsible, in the short term, for collecting selective waste deposited at eco-points and their surroundings and be paid by ALGAR.
The Portimão City Council takes the opportunity to “request collaboration and appeal to citizens to be civil, so that, whenever they find full eco-points, they go to the nearest collection point, not leaving this waste on the public road, to avoid unwanted accumulation of waste and resulting unsanitary situations”.
The situation is no different in Albufeira, and it is not new and seems to be getting worse from year to year, especially during the summer months, when waste production quadruples or quintuples due to tourist pressure.
“This situation is terrible for the image of Albufeira. ALGAR is 56 per cent owned by Empresa Geral de Fomento (EGF) of the Mota Engil Group and 44 per cent by the municipalities of the Algarve. The municipalities are, therefore, in the minority, not exercising any power of influence concerning the operational part of the company”, highlights José Carlos Rolo, president of Albufeira City Council.
It should also be noted that ALGAR, through a contract signed with the State, has the concession for recycling bins and managing landfills in the Algarve region until 2034.
The mayor states that ALGAR’s improper collection of recyclables is already being felt at other times of the year. Hence, the municipality “vehemently repudiates this situation which penalizes the municipality and the citizen himself, who feels that taxes that pay for this purpose on the water bill, do not correspond to the service provided, generating revolt and discomfort, expressing their indignation daily through criticism published on social media and formal complaints to the services”, he points out.
The mayor says he is in solidarity with the anger shown by the population and even tourists. He states he has already, on several occasions, reported the situation to the Water and Waste Services Regulatory Entity (ERSAR), requesting their intervention to resolve the problem.
Meanwhile, and to overcome the “inefficient collection” carried out by ALGAR, the Municipality of Albufeira, through Luságua, “has been making daily efforts to minimize the situation, cleaning and collecting rubbish around eco-points to guarantee the necessary health conditions”, he explains.
José Carlos Rolo reinforces that “what is happening is unacceptable in a municipality that at this time of year receives thousands of tourists, which, naturally, results in a huge increase in the amount of waste produced, requiring greater attention from ALGAR in the organization of circuits and frequency of collection, to avoid situations like this, which in no way dignifies the image of Albufeira and causes rejection and discomfort among the population, as well as those who visit us”.
The mayor adds, “We are trying to resolve the situation, either with the competent authorities or by collecting the recyclables that remain outside the equipment, even without the aforementioned work being our responsibility”.
The contact details for reporting/making complaints about the collection of recyclable waste to ALGAR are as follows:
Recycling Line 800 911 400 (free call), available Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 19:00, or via e-mail ([email protected]).
ALGAR headquarters: Telephone: 289 894 480 (call to the national fixed network), or e-mail ([email protected])
For matters related to urban cleaning or unsorted waste, the Luságua blue number is available (800 202 492).