LIPOR is the Intermunicipal Waste Management Service of Greater Porto. Over their 40 years of existence, they turned a landfill into a waste management facility, started making products and offering services to spread their success and model around the world.
The association consists of the municipalities of Espinho, Gondomar, Maia, Matosinhos, Porto, Póvoa de Varzim, Valongo and Vila do Conde. Every year they valorise 500,000 tonnes of waste from the 1 million inhabitants of the area, or 1.38kg per day per inhabitant.
They want to share their model and their success with the world, so they came to Brussels to present what they are doing, during a conference at the Press Club. Chairman, José Manuel Ribeiro, was joined by the CEO Fernando Leite and the Manager of the International Business Unit Susana Abreu.
We came to Brussels because we feel we can be an ally of the European Commission. Our model, our numbers, what we have reached, give us the means to participate in the global market, as an ally of the European Commission.José Manuel Ribeiro, Chairman of LIPOR
1. The LIPOR model, covering the entire value chain
Innovation and technology are at the core of the company, which embraces all the latest developments. They invested in the latest available incinerator, which produces less pollution from burning the leftover waste than the cement production process. “As much as you sort and recycle, there is always going to be some leftover waste and incinerating it is the best solution because landfills create a lot of emissions”, Mr Ribeiro explained.
In 2005 we realised we were just in the middle of the value chain, but we wanted to be everywhere. And for that we needed to start offering services and products.Fernando Leite, CEO of LIPOR
They started producing high quality compost, as well as working with the polymer sector to start producing goods from recycled plastic. The latest product from the innovation department is a waste container made of polypropylene, specifically designed to ease recycling at home, since most of the existing containers do not facilitate the process. The product just attaches to the wall, without screws or nails, and can hold up to 10kg of material.
“It’s important to share our business model and the waste sector is the final objective, but we’re also focusing on creating products”, Leite said.
Moreover, they are looking at turning waste into energy. They have the capacity of producing enough electricity to power all the streetlights in the Porto region and all the municipal buildings. In the near future they will also start capturing carbon to combine it with hydrogen and produce biofuel for aircraft.
“This is the best example of think global, act local. We need examples like LIPOR that can start a ripple effect worldwide”, MEP Sara Cerdas concluded.
2. Spreading the model
LIPOR is currently working with countries from Africa and Latin America to share what they are doing and help them implement similar approaches to waste management.
We create tailor made solutions according to the needs, the realities and the size of each country.Susana Abreu, Manager of International Business Unit, LIPOR
They offer technical consultancy, awareness and environmental education, capacity building and training services, adapted to the needs of each country. Currently, in Argentina, they are helping NGOs with capacity building and the government to properly define marine litter, as well as designing education and prevention campaigns for the citizens.
3. Education and prevention
One of the missions of LIPOR is also to educate people and raise awareness on what constitutes marine litter and how it can be prevented in the first place. Communication and information campaigns empower people by teaching them how to consume and buy better, remarked Ribeiro.
We have all the answers on how to treat waste, but if we don’t change human behaviours, through communication, education and training, we can take thousands of actions for waste treatment and it will not be enough.José Manuel Ribeiro, Chairman LIPOR
“People don’t say waste, they say garbage. It’s vital to know the difference. The way we communicate is very important for sending the right message”, said Ribeiro, adding that the first step of waste management is reducing consumption.