THE garbage feewhose official name is Waste Management Fee (TGR) it’s on our water bill, but do we know what we’re paying? And will it be possible to save on this fee?
This fee, which is basically just another tax, is intended to pay the costs associated with the treatment of waste, whether recycled or sent to landfill.
The managing entities of waste services pay the TGR to the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA). This value refers to the amount of waste deposited in landfills or sent for incineration.
These companies issue the bill to the municipal councils which, in turn, charge it to their residents, putting the amount on the water bill.
Why do we pay a garbage fee?
The amount to be paid for waste treatment, i.e. the garbage fee that appears on your invoice, is the result of the work of several entities🇧🇷
The consumer pays the municipalities – which in turn take on this task or concession the collection – so that the waste is taken to specific places where it is treated.
These treatment companies also have to pay a fee to the APA, which has different values depending on the destination given to the waste.
Consequently, the garbage fee that is then charged to the councils varies depending on the final treatment given to the waste, penalizing those that are not sent for recycling, even if that possibility exists.
The issue is that, as your local authority has no way of knowing whether citizen X recycles or not, nor the amount of waste he produces, it ends up make a calculation based on water consumption🇧🇷
It is thus based on the principle that those who use more water also produce more wasteprobably because they have a larger household, so the garbage fee is proportional.
The amount to be paid by waste management companies to APA varies depending on the treatment given to the waste🇧🇷
- 100% of the TGR per ton of garbage for landfilling;
- 85% of the TGR per ton of waste for incineration;
- 25% of the TGR on each ton of waste subject to energy recovery.
Here you can see that the more waste sent for recycling, the lower the garbage fee paid.
Ie, the more people recyclethe lower the bill for the municipality and lower should also be the amount paid by the final consumer🇧🇷
Garbage fee with the environment in mind
The idea of this garbage tax, which exists since 2007is not only to discourage the production of waste, but also to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in incinerators or landfills🇧🇷
On the other hand, and for this incentive to be even greater, so that national environmental goals are achieved, the value of the garbage fee has been increasing since 2015.
The value of the garbage fee in 2022 and in 2023
The value of the TGR, calculated in euros per ton of waste, was €5.5 in 2015rising progressively to €6.6, €7.7 and €8.8in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.
In 2019 it reached 9.9€ and, in 2020, that value became 11€. In 2021, TGR has increased significantly, to €22, double what it cost the previous year. In 2022, and according to the APA, the value remains at €22, but in 2023 it will rise to €25🇧🇷
The purpose of these successive increases is to discourage final disposal options in landfills and incineration of unsorted waste. At the same time, it aims to encourage the reduction of waste production and the separation and recycling of materials.
How is the garbage fee charged?
If you look carefully at your water bill you will then see the amount you are charged for waste.
A portion of the garbage fee is fixed and designated as availability fee🇧🇷 That is, you are paying for the availability that the municipality has to do the collection, transport and treatment or disposal of waste🇧🇷
This fixed part appears in a certain value in euros for every 30 days🇧🇷
The other component is variable, being calculated in function of water volume (measured in cubic meters) that is billed, and which, in case the meter does not read correctly, may not even be the water actually consumed.
On average, and according to a study carried out by Deco, 20% of the water bill concerns payments for the collection and treatment of waste.
The exemptions provided for by law
In fact, not all waste is subject to a garbage fee. The law provides for exemption from TGR in cases where a technical solution is required by law.
That is, as the agent has no other way of treating waste, even if he has environmental concerns, he will not have to pay for a solution that is imposed on him.
In this case, the mandatory incineration of Group IV Hospital Waste (of biological risk, that is, contaminated or suspected of contamination), the landfilling of construction and demolition waste containing asbestos🇧🇷
These waste tax exemptions are applied only to waste generated in Portugal. “Imported” waste will have to pay TGR.
There are still special and temporary exemptionsenacted by the Ministry of the Environment, such as the one applied to the removal of waste deposited in the heaps of the former Mines of São Pedro da Cova, in Gondomar.
Exemptions for consumers
According to the Tariff Regulation of the urban waste management service, social tariffs must be made available to domestic consumers in a situation of economic need proven by the social security system.
The application of this tariff not compulsorywhich is why not all municipalities do this.
And, even in cases where they are applied, there are disparities: the tariff may be levied on water consumption, on the availability rate or on another variable component.
How to save on garbage fee
As you have already noticed, the more water you use, the greater the value for waste treatment on your bill.
Therefore, The easiest way to save on garbage fees is to save water.🇧🇷
Even so, and although you may not immediately feel the effects, there are some measures that may have an impact on the bill that your local authority ends up paying and that may be reflected in your water bill🇧🇷
Recycle everything possible
Don’t limit yourself to plastic, glass and paper. Recycle clothing, furniture and electrical and electronic items.
If in doubt, ask your local authority about the options available for each type of waste.
Giving new life to products and materials contributes to the circular economy and saves the environment and resources.
The less waste there is to treat, the lower the bill to be paid by the city council. Therefore, the amount of your invoice will be lower.
Put packaging and waste in the right ecopoints
When placing an item in a given ecopoint that should be placed in another, may be disabling the residues that are already there🇧🇷
Furthermore, an item out of place can damage trucks and other machines that are only prepared to handle a certain type of waste.
The best way to avoid mistakes is to take the garbage separately from home.
If you have any doubts, check the ecopoint signs for which waste should be placed there or consult the websites of entities that manage waste.
Article originally published in April 2021. Updated in November 2022.