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History of Urban Cleaning

Up to the 1755 Earthquake - Growth and embellishment of the city

Terreiro do Paço

The history of the origin of the city of Lisboa gets lost in the memory of times. It is known that since 2.000 years B.C. Monsanto had hosted the first human settlements and that in 138 B.C. the existing settlement was integrated into the Roman world, becoming known as Felicitas Iulia Olisipo, (1) later on it was named Ulixbuna (Olisipona) during the Visigoth domination and later on as Al-Ushbuna, during the Arabian period, having remained as an Arabian city (2) until it was conquered by King D. Afonso Henriques (3).

The attraction it had for several peoples was mainly due to its privileged location for trade, both with the East as well as with the peoples of the North, as well as due to the fertility of its fields, and the features of the horses that were raised here and that were considered as very fast, and also due to the tranquillity of the waters which enabled an intense fishing activity, and even the proximity of natural water sources with very good characteristics, an element which was so much valued during the Roman occupation.

But it was also its location that made it vulnerable to the attacks of the Lusitanian people, to the plundering it was the target of, and that demanded the construction of the first walls by the Romans around the urban settlement.

The Romans went down the side of the hill and the city was endowed with different public buildings that were required to carry out the different administrative and religious functions, namely several temples, a theatre, the Forum, bathing facilities, the Cassio Thermal baths.

By the river front, small factories were established that worked on transforming fish as well as different anchorage points.

In order to facilitate communications with the Western area of the Iberian Peninsula, the Romans also built the road that passed by Santarém and connected Olisipo to Bracara Augusta [presently Braga].

Subject to repeated invasions of people from the North and from the East of Europe, the city fell under the domination of the Visigoths and was forced to adopt its uses and costumes (4).

The Arabians found a city surrounded by rich orchards on fertile soils, with hot water springs, a city that they considered as rich in cultures.

After being conquered, Lisboa finally was awarded the foral charter in 1179.  The formation and consolidation of the nation [12th Century], after the definite conquer of the Alentejo and the Algarve, made Lisboa acquire a centrality and importance that, along with a growing population, made it assert itself as the capital of the kingdom [by King D. Afonso III - 1256].

The city continued to expand beyond the boundaries defined by the walls, always coming down the hill towards Alfama and towards the area of the present “Baixa”.  The first churches were built as well as the cathedral (the Sé), which were integrated within the new limits of the city, inside the new wall meanwhile completed (5).

In his Memórias de Lisboa [Memories of Lisboa] (6), Rómulo de Carvalho in a brief but rich way, leads us through the environment of this city until the 1755 Earthquake: “During the first centuries of the nation, the whole area from the present Largo do Pelourinho, passing by the Terreiro do Paço, all the way to Conceição Velha, was a large wide beach, towards the North of which the small city would pile up along the hillside coming down until the Tagus. The site was just excellent for incursions of pirates, and so King D. Dinis, in 1294, ordered the construction of a wall all along the length of the mentioned beach, with strong towers, robust walls and thick doors, well locked […]. 

Some years later, in 1372, when Henrique from Castile sieged Lisboa, it was recognized that the wall of King D. Dinis was insufficient to protect the city. After the war was over, the King of the time, D. Fernando, ordered the construction of a second wall, in front of the first one, by the side of the river, and which, after being properly extended, surrounded the whole city […] extending all the way until São Vicente and including Alfama and Mouraria.

King D. João I made the main noble families from the province start to have their residence in Lisboa, where they would remain while the royal court would stay in the city.

The bourgeoisie and the upper clerks also built their houses here, although more modest ones.

Most of the houses were however small in size and were built with no comfort. They were connected with vegetable gardens and orchards, pasturing grounds, vineyards and grain barns.

In the vacant plots, garbage and waste matter and the then narrow and steep streets would make their cleaning a difficult task (7).

With the increased population, with the people coming from the country side, trade was developed as a way to respond to the needs of the city.

Over the year the beach was gradually land filled until when King D. Manuel [in the 16th Century] ordered the central portion to be made flat and a large square to built there, where the market was installed in much better conditions, not just for fish but also for all other food items, spices and all sorts of goods.

At that time, the Royal palace, already coming from the ancient kings, was situated on top of the hill where presently the Castel of Saint Jorge [rebuilt] is located and from there, King D. Manuel would frequently climb all the way down to the large square to see the ship carpenters working […] in the place named as RIBEIRA DAS NAUS. […] The King ordered the construction of a palace, right there, in the riverfront area. […] Not much time went by until the King felt that the facilities were too small, not just for the awareness of personal greatness he was acquiring, with the expansion of the discoveries, but also due to the intensification of the trade with India […]. It was from the construction of the palace that the “terreiro da ribeira” [square of the riverfront] became known as the TERREIRO DO PAÇO [Square of the Palace]. […] For its vast extension, it was there also where the bullfighting would take place and where the endless processions of the Santo Ofício [Holy Office] would parade. […].

The Palace of Ribeira, much more impressive than the Alcáçova Real, which despite having undergone enlargement works over the centuries still remained as too small, was situated between the Ribeira das Naus and the Alfândega [Customs].

With King D. Manuel Lisboa grew significantly to be able to accommodate the new tradesmen and the workers involved in naval construction and trade.

The urban centre was situated between the Terreiro do Paço and the Rossio, the two main squares of the city. One where the commercial, administrative and religious functions were carried out, and the other associated to the function of market, for being located near one of the exits of the city and for facilitating the commercial exchanges between those coming from outside and the inhabitants of Lisboa.

Many different exotic products would pass through Lisboa, and from here would depart to the whole of Europe and this new trade enriched  and made the city grow, which was becoming full of new buildings such as the House of India, the Arsenal, the Alfândega [Customs], the Terreiro do Trigo [Wheat Square].

During the Filipine occupation, the city adapted itself to the Castilian taste. Major monumental constructions were built all over the city and in the surroundings, mainly churches and palaces, among which the construction of the church of S. Vicente de Fora (8) and the works made in the palace of Ribeira, in 1609 by King Filipe II [in Portugal] stand out[…]. The general appearance of the whole set improved significantly, but the butchery that distributed the meat for the whole city of Lisboa was still functioning at the Terreiro do Paço, and that was also where all the dirty stuff from the city was thrown.

King D. João IV, after the Restoration of the Kingdom, forbade all such quarrels, ordered the square to be cleansed and put a water fountain in the centre with four chutes, topped by an Apollo […]. It was at that time, and in that place, that the revolution of 1640 started, in which Miguel de Vasconcelos was thrown from one of the windows of the palace to the Square. […].

As we could see, although there were some occasional concerns with the cleanliness of the cities “[...] in the medieval Christian Europe, […] there were no habits of personal hygiene or of public cleanliness. The environmental sanitary conditions were terrible. The Medieval cities had no basic sanitation systems. The domestic waste water was thrown into the public streets.

The growth of Lisboa outside of the Fernandine Wall made King D. João IV feel the need for endowing Lisboa with a more effective protection, and so he ordered the preparation of a general fortification project that would follow the new boundaries of the city, which would go all the way from Santa Apolónia to Alcântara, passing by Prazeres, Campolide, Estrela and Capuchos.

The demographic growth in the 16th Century continued throughout the 17th Century, and lead the Kings to order that the expansion of the city be made in a regulated and organized way.

With the accession to the throne of King D. João V in the beginning of the 18th Century, the works of engrandicement of the capital started, based on the wealth coming from Brazil. Near the Palace, King D. João V ordered the construction [in 1716] of the opulent Metropolitan and Patriarchal Cathedral of Lisboa [more or less where presently is located the Church of São Julião]. The King wanted to, on the one hand, respond to the issues that Lisboa was suffering from in urbanistic terms, while, on the other hand, he also wanted to make Lisboa into a proper capital of the Empire. It was in this context that major improvement works started in the city, namely the water Aqueduct of Águas Livres (9).

King D. José ordered the construction of the Opera House [1753], with a front of 120m [corresponding to the building of the Arsenal da Marinha [the Marine Yard] in the section facing the Square of Pelourinho]. Thus the extensive area was occupied by the Palace of Ribeira and the attached buildings, at 9 hours and 40 minutes of the morning of Saturday, the 1st of November of 1755.”

As we could see, although there were some occasional concerns with the cleanliness of the cities “[...] in the medieval Christian Europe, […] there were no habits of personal hygiene or of public cleanliness. The environmental sanitary conditions were terrible. The Medieval cities had no basic sanitation systems. The domestic waste water was thrown into the public streets.

As far as the Roman tradition of public baths, valued to a certain extent by Jewish and Arabian medicine in the Iberian Peninsula, we are aware of how it was so strongly opposed by Christianity: for example, men of the Church like Saint Jerome [343-420] could see no valid reasons for a Christian to take bath after baptism, although in the architectonic plan of the famous monastery of Sant Gallen [19th Century] there were some latrines and bathing facilities planned [Graça, 1996]. It should be mentioned that this theological prejudice regarding personal bodily hygiene had very negative consequences in the health of the European population …” (10).

In Lisboa, which population became increasingly dense over the centuries (11), public health brought about difficult challenges to be overcome by the Monarchs. The frequency and persistence of epidemic diseases was favoured by the scarcity of water, by the waste being thrown into the streets or into the river, as well as by a permanent relationship with peoples from different nations, provided by the Port of Lisboa and by all the activity connected to the Discoveries.

People were leaving in the street. Piled up among chicken, the dunghills and hundreds of cats and dogs that would “use up” the remnants they would find. They were unaware of the importance of hygiene for health and it was impossible for them to have habits of hygiene due to the lack of water and sewage. Frequently the people was affected by fevers originated by the lack of cleanliness and by the resulting bad odours that were felt all over the city and that caused, in the 15th and 16th centuries, serious crises of mortality among the population. Just as an example, we can mention the plague that lasted during the whole siege of Lisboa (12) in 1384, killing among the Castilian troops about 150 to 200 men a day; and that which happened in 1414 and that lead to the death of Queen D. Filipa de Lencastre.

“In the royal courts of 1434 the poor public health condition of the country was stated. By the end of August 1437 there were several mortal cases of plagues both in Lisboa and in the surroundings. On its prophylaxis and treatment, several weekly public conferences were held, and the King approved a system of sanitary measures submitted by the City Council of Lisboa”(13). In his book Leal Conselheiro [Loyal Advisor], King D. Duarte when addressing the issue of the plague, stated his opinion that infested places should be given up (14).

Plagues caused by lack of cleanliness in the streets were disturbing the public powers. Different measures were renewed, and the “black women that would clear the potties” [Negras calhandreiras] (16) who would carry all the filth gathered in the streets over to the beaches, appeared at that time to help out in the work of the “large carts [carretões]” (15).

The disorganised growth of the city [buildings and streets], the absence of sanitation and the scarce distribution of water, plus the Money of the Senate (17) contributed towards the Cleaning of the City being treated during the 15th Century (18) only with occasional measures that tried to minimize the filthy condition of the streets.

Only the regular processions, parades, and royal marriages and baptisms would lead to some cleaning of the streets. 

King D. João II (19), between 1485-1495, issued several royal charters and licenses, ordering the cleaning of the city and of the pipes of the houses, forbidding that garbage be abandoned openly in the yards and defining a place for it to be thrown. He called upon himself the solution of the cleanliness issues, which the Senate was not able to respond to, for they transcended their scope of competences (20). “The streets were drowning in dung pits; those who were able to, would only cross them on horses. Pipes, which were only mentioned in the municipal regulation of 1502, only by the end of the 16th Century did they have a described layout – everything was partial and disconnected, and only two royal pipes could be counted” (21).

Probably the most important landmark of all the different types of measures taken by King D. João II is the Royal Charter of 1486, in which the Monarch ordered that the parishes should have men paid by the dwellers themselves to “averem dallimpar a cidade” [“look after the cleaning of the city”].

In the 1500s Lisboa was a populated city with more than 18,000 houses distributed throughout 270 streets and 89 narrow alleys, and about 50,000 or 60,000 inhabitants [although some authors mention that it could reach about 100,000 inhabitants], coming not only from the different provinces of the Kingdom but also from the recently discovered lands. The Tagus, the departing and arrival point of the ships from India, was also the place for throwing all the filthy stuff from the city (22). So it is not strange that the cleanliness of the city remained as a concern for King D. Manuel (23), who legislated on this matter either by establishing the “place where all manures should by thrown”, or by obliging everyone, with no exceptions, to contribute towards the cleanliness and hygiene of the city. 

Against the general practice of burial of those times, and in order to clean the city, this Monarch also determined the opening of (24), which up to then [year 1515] were thrown in the dunghill of Santa Catarina, in the beach of Santos or thrown in the farms in the surroundings (25). 

Despite the concerns of the Kings, according to data from 1552, the number of “men that walk around the city with their carts, cleaning the mud and all other garbage” would not be more than four.

In the kingdom of King D. Sebastião (26) - who considered cleanliness as “the main thing” and an important one - an Order was issued determining that “men with carts, and beasts for the sections where the carts could not be used, clean up all the filth and carry it to places deputed for such purpose, at the costs of the dwellers of such streets, passage ways and alleys”.

This determination exempted from the payment of such contribution those “visited by the Mercy Institutes and similar other people”.

As a way of improving both the execution and inspection of city cleaning, as well as the management of this service, the King increased by two the number of cleaning inspectors, which now became six in number, and whom he divided through the City into six different neighbourhoods (27).

Successive plagues afflicted the City towards the end of the fifteen hundreds [1580, 1598 and 1599] (28). In 1607, the Senate determined that all cleaning interventions be made on account of the “royal of water” (29) and that, in all neighbourhoods, the “carts and ribeirinhos” (30) be used, as the money coming from the contributions made by the dwellers was insufficient to pay for that task.

Despite its more modest role, during the Filipine domination, Lisboa continued to grow: “In 1620, according to Fr. Nicolau de Oliveira, Lisboa counted 27,000 houses and 165,000 people, of which 10,000 were slaves, 6,000 foreigners and 3,000 friars and nuns” (31) and gypsies, and in 1642 the population of the city was close to 200,000 (32) inhabitants”.

In 1661, Nuno de Mendonça, the Count of Vale de Reis [at the time the Chairman of the Senate and Lisboa] ordered that the city be divided into neighbourhoods and that the respective ministers be responsible for the obligation of looking after cleanliness, for which he gave them money and the “list of all the dunghills”.

Later on, still in the 17th Century, with Garcia de Melo as the Chairman of the Senate, the Services improved to a certain extent.

Following a loan made by him, “six carts with two wheels” were acquired, and for each one there will be “two men to clean the streets and to govern them”. One of the conditions that was imposed was that the service should be completed by 9am and, besides that, that the dwellers that up to then were paying “one coin for each house and two for those who would have a shop under the house or in any other place” would not be overburdened with new contributions (33).

Later on, towards the beginning of the 18th Century (34), another tax was created [resulting from the enforcement of a new additional charge upon the sale of meat and wine] called the “royalty for cleaning”, and so the inhabitants of the city stopped contributing directly towards the cleaning of the streets. The royal decrees from 1738 and 1746 determined that “no dweller could throw or order for water or garbage to be thrown in the streets, either during the day or at night, except after the bell had rung”. These measures contributed towards improving the appearance of the City, despite the fact that they were not followed by everyone (35).


1 SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, 1979, vol. VI, p. 659.

2 The Arabians remained in the city between 714 and 1147 [DIAS, Marina Tavares; Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Imprensa Municipal [Municipal Printing Press], volume 1, 1990].

3 Ditto.

4 COUTO, Dejanirah. História de Lisboa. Lisboa, Gótica, 2006

5 Ditto.

6 RÓMULO de CARVALHO. Memórias de Lisboa. Lisboa, Relógio d´Água, 2000, p.12 to 19.

7 COUTO, Dejanirah. História de Lisboa. Lisboa, Gótica, 2006

8 MARQUES, Beatriz Rosa de Abreu Pereira. O Vale de Alcântara como caso de Estudo: evolução da morfologia urbana, Lisboa, IST – Master’s thesis on Architecture, 2009, Source:   E https://dspace.ist.utl.pt/bitstream/2295/331492/1/dissertacao.pdf 

9 Ditto.

10 GRAÇA, Luís. Representações Sociais da Saúde, da Doença e dos Praticantes da Arte Médica nos Provérbios em Língua Portuguesa. 2000. Source: www.ensp.unl.pt - [September 05].

11 By the date of the conquest of the city, Lisboa had 15,000 inhabitants and 15 hectares and a half of extension. With the construction of the Fernandine wall, the area of the city extended up to 105 hectares, including a population that, between the 15th and the 16th centuries went from 50,000 inhabitants to 100,000 inhabitants, which included seafarers, soldiers, currency exchangers, merchants, craftsmen, friars and beggars besides a strong presence of foreigners. During the Filipine domination, in 1626, 126,000 were registered. [In: DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera, Volume 1, 1990].

12 The crisis of 1383-1385 which culminated in the acclamation of King D. João I, thus starting the dynasty of Aviz.

13 Epidemias. In: SERRÃO, Joel [coordinator]; Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, 1979, p. 407.

14 Ditto.

15 Men with carts that carried the filthy stuff to the beaches.

16 Designation given to the black slave women that worked for the market sellers.

17 Structure that worked at the level of the city management.

18 Which coincides with the period that goes from King D. João I to King D. João II, during which the Portuguese expansions were started, first to Africa and then through the Discovery of new Lands.

19 1481-1495.

20 Ditto.

21 In the words of Ricardo Jorge quoted by GRAÇA, Luís. Representações Sociais da Saúde, da Doença e dos Praticantes da Arte Médica nos Provérbios em Língua Portuguesa. 2000. Source: www.ensp.unl.pt [September 05].

22 Demography. In: SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, 1979, Volume II, p. 281-286. 

23 1494-1521. 

24 The Well of the Moors and the Well of the Blacks. The toponym “Poço dos Negros” [Well of the Black] at the end of the Calçada do Combros [MARQUES, António. Os negros na Lisboa quinhentista. In: Jornal de Artes e Letras. Source:www.eomais.cjb.net [September 05] and GRAÇA, Luís. Representações Sociais da Saúde, da Doença e dos Praticantes da Arte Médica nos Provérbios em Língua Portuguesa, 2000. Source: www.ensp.unl.pt [September 05]

25 Ditto.

26 1556-1578.

27 OLIVEIRA, Eduardo Freire de. Elementos para a História do Município de Lisboa. Lisboa, Tipografia Universal, 1898.

28 Demography In: SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, 1979, Volume II, p. 281-286.

29 The royal for water appeared in the time of King D. João, replacing the anúduva which at the time was directed to edification. “The royal for water went through different stages, both in terms of the value of the fees that were collected as well as in terms of their application. The city councils were always responsible for the charges of the collection and of the administration, but the product of the tax was, in total or partially, for the benefit of the crown” [SERRÃO, Joel. “Dictionary of the History of Portugal.” Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, Volume 1, 1979, p. 238].

30 OLIVEIRA, Eduardo Freire de. Elementos para a História do Município de Lisboa. Lisboa, Tipografia Universal, 1898. 

31 SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, Volume 1, 1979, p. 238.

32 Ditto, quoted in the Decree of July 10th 1642 in: CHABY, Cláudio. Sinopse dos Decretos do extinto Conselho de Guerra.

33 OLIVEIRA, Eduardo Freire de. Elementos para a História do Município de Lisboa. Lisboa, Tipografia Universal, 1898.

34 “In 1702 one more royal was added to the wine and another to the meat, but with the condition, as imposed by King D. Pedro II [1683-1706], in July 10th that year, that the new tax be applied exclusively to the cleaning of the city and to the repair of the public paths and pavements outside the walls. The new tax received the name of realete or realete for cleaning”. In: SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, Volume 1, 1979, p. 238.


35 OLIVEIRA, Eduardo Freire de. Elementos para a História do Município de Lisboa. Lisboa, Tipografia Universal, 1898.

From 1755 until the end of the 19th Century

Carro de recolha de Lixo
Água Vai!
Recolha do Lixo, 1856

The strategic vision of the Marquis of Pombal, after the 1755 Earthquake, was the opportunity for the rebirth of the city of Lisboa. José Augusto França summarizes it as follows (1): “In the Portuguese 18th Century, the only truly original event was the earthquake of 1755 - and the birth of a city as a consequence of that. This is the last of the ancient cities of Europe and the first of the modern cities”. “Lisboa of the 19th Century developed to the size of the country, with no urban program and no social model, be it a reformist or an utopian one: it lacked a philosophy, as well as it lacked a pragmatic necessity that would determine a policy […].

Only by the end did Rosa Araújo idealistically outline a new urban purpose from which Ressano Garcia was able to draw consequences, in the materialistic turning point between both centuries”. With the projects of Eugénio dos Santos and Carlos Mardel, a new Lisboa was rebuilt under the principles of enlightened rationality of the time, awarding the city with a structure guided by functionality, where along with housing and mercantile areas there were also areas for political and administrative management - the Terreiro de Paço - and for socialization – the Passeio Público [Public Walkway]. “… The Public Walkway was, in the words of Júlio Castilho, one of the dear sons of the Marquis of Pombal; one of the most effective instruments of this great thinker to amalgamate the different classes” (2).

Thus started the reconstruction of the city: the narrow streets, which up to then had existed, gave way to other much larger streets; the buildings now being built used the cage system, with a maximum of three floors for housing, above the ground floor, which was taken up by shops, to make it easier to the dwellers to reach the street in case of any new disaster. They were also endowed with wide guillotine windows, and the kitchens were equipped with a fire place and a sink. It was also planned to endow the city with a sewage system and with a multiplicity of water points for water supply, and with the purpose of making the city more modern and less dirty (3), more attractive for those who  inhabited it and for the many foreigners visiting it.

All the buildings had similar façades, which, placed next to each other, would award them the appearance of palaces.

The Terreiro do Paço, where the Royal Palace, the House of India and the Palace of the Royal Court were replaced by long buildings with arches, it even seemed like its dimensions were larger (4). And on the Northern end of the Terreiro do Paço, a triumphal Arch was thought to be placed by the beginning of Rua Augusta.

The uses and costumes were starting to change. Meetings with recitals and social games were in fashion, in which women were also accepted now.

Another measure for the modernization of the city, in order to make it look like other European capitals, was the incentive for the opening of cafes. Mainly for the bourgeoisies and for foreigners, although most of the people from Lisboa preferable loved tea.

Water, however, continued to be a scarce asset, despite the fact that it was reaching Lisboa since 1750 through the aqueduct and the fact that this major work included the construction of several water fountains (5).

The Marquis of Pombal decided to concentrate the cleaning of the city, its illumination and the  horse guard of the city, in a single institution, the Intendancy of the Police, allocating the expenses to the inhabitants of Lisboa - “according to the amount of rent that will be paid” by the shops and bars, the hostels and the new foreigners that come to the city (6).

By a Decree of May 20th 1780 were also transferred to the General Intendancy of the Police, the administration and collection of the royals and of the realete for meat. The product from such collection was applied to the expenses with the rebuilding and fixing of bridges, as well as to fixing the pavements, the water fountains and towards the cleaning of the city. Thus the administration of the municipality was left without these services and income (7).

In 1823, by the Law Charter of April 7th, the service of cleaning the city, along with its illumination, became a competence of the Municipality of Lisboa. For such purpose, the Government would pay an annual amount of eighty four thousand royals: sixty thousand for illumination and twenty four thousand for cleaning the city (8).

We know that in 1835, according to Lisboa Antiga by Júlio de Castilho, the collection of waste was made “...with numbered carts drawn by hinnies, which by ringing a bell would announce the dwellers that the carts were passing by”.

At quite a late stage, and by this time, the country was awakening for industrialization, with the arrival of the steam engine, in 1835. Despite the fact that the predominant driving force was still human and animal, the steam engine started to gain its own space in the small industrial clusters of Lisboa and Porto.

In 1852 there were already 70 unities with an installed power of 983hp (9). The transports policy of the Regeneration (10) [railways and roads] connected the country and opened it to the exterior. Lisboa grew and followed this movement. Between 1852 and 1857 (11) the Lisboa ring road was built (Estrada da Circunvalação), which was considered as a significant political and administrative fact “bringing down the medieval fences built for the protection of the City” and that “for the very first time, the Municipality of Lisboa was delimitated by a continuous and clearly defined boundary line” encompassing a total area of 1,278 hectares (12).

Public lighting, made with olive oil since the time of Pina Manique (13), was replaced by curcas oil [1842], and then rapidly replaced by gas [1848]. Towards the end of the century [1878] electric lighting appeared, and the last gas lights in the centre of Lisboa were turned off near the Campo de Santana, already in the 1950s (14).

In 1823, Lisboa and Porto were connected by maritime path and by the mid of the century the construction of the road network started with the first 400 Km (15) of road, enabling the connection of Lisboa with the rest of the country.

Public transportation became common (16) and animal power was successively replaced by steam power [1867], by the electric trams [1873] and in the 20th Century by petrol engines.

The opening of the Avenue of Liberdade [Liberty] - for which City Councillor and later on Mayor Rosa Araújo fought so strongly - and of Av. 24 de Julho helped expand the horizons of the city: “At that time (17), the beach of Lisboa would go from Xabregas all the way to Belém. The appearance of the area that included Alcântara and the Ribeira Nova was not very pleasant: it was covered by awnings and sheds, was used as a dump and, instead of sand, one would get stuck on mud” (18).

In the second half of the 19th Century, some new neighbourhoods were also born – Prazeres, Arroios and Penha de França and Santa Apolónia and, in 1878 with Ressano Garcia, the Public Walkway [Passeio Público] was demolished and in its place appeared the Avenue da Liberdade (19).

The organization of the cleaning of the city by Pina Manique was followed by that of the Municipality of Lisboa by the mid 19th Century, being ensured by a group of servants [sweepers and horse chart drivers].

Travelling the city from one end to the other, they were responsible for sweeping the city during the night and to take away both the garbage from the houses as well as the manure from the stables, carrying the waste thus collected in the city to the Dump.

Based on human and animal power, the cleaning of the city was organized into seven districts, and each one was responsible for four tours. In December 3rd 1855, a Regulation for the Administration of the Cleaning of Lisboa was approved and remained in force until this activity became under the responsibility of a person hired for such purpose (20).

In 1857 “… the government proposed to put an end to all the dirty areas of the capital. Squares that were almost transformed into garbage dumps were gardened […]. The Parliament allocated 800 thousand royals to the “largest public cleansing work ever” made for the benefit of the population of Lisboa: the land fill of the mud of Boavista” (21) - the Avenue 24 de Julho.

However, and according to the records of the Exhibition “O Povo de Lisboa” [The People of Lisboa](22), by the end of the 19th Century “Lisboa was still a dirty city, disorganised and stinking. It was enchanting for its beauty and picturesque, but it was disappointing for the chaotic appearance of its streets and for the backwardness of its population. The narrow and tortuous streets of the popular neighbourhoods into where all types of waste was thrown, creating true garbage dumps, were in very bad shape, with puddles of dirty water...” 


1 FRANÇA, José Augusto. Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo. Lisboa, 2nd Ed., Bertrand, 1977, p. 296; FRANÇA, José Augusto; Lisboa Oitocentista. Lisboa, National Academy of Fine Arts / Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian [documental exhibition] - [Quoted by FERREIRA, Vítor Matias. A cidade de Lisboa: de capital do império a centro da metrópole. Lisboa, Dom Quixote, 1987, p. 75].

2 DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera Editores, 7th Ed., Vol. I, 1991, p. 51.

3 COUTO, Dejanirah. História de Lisboa. Lisboa, Gótica, 2006.

4 Ditto 

5 PEREIRA, Cristóvão Valente. Chafarizes de Lisboa – Monumento e Função Prática. A Importância das Funções dos Equipamentos e Mobiliário Urbano para a Sustentabilidade do Espaço Público. – Doctoral Thesis on Public Space and Urban Regeneration at the University of Barcelona. Assistant Professor at  the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisboa.

6 DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera Editores, 7th ed., Vol. I, 1991.

7 SERRÃO, Joel. Dictionary of the History of Portugal. Porto, Livraria Figueirinhas, Volume 1, 1979.

8 Ditto.

9 Ditto, Regeneration. 

10 Started in 1850.

11 Included the areas of Alcântara, Prazeres, Campolide, São Sebastião da Pedreira, Arco Cego, Arroios, Penha de França, Cruz da Pedra and Santa Apolónia and, in another area, the military road of Ameixoeira, Lumiar, Sete Rios and Chelas. 

12 Vieira da Silva. Os Limites de Lisboa: Dispersos. Vol. I, p. 61. Quoted by: FERREIRA, Vítor Matias.  Lisboa, Publicações Dom Quixote, 1987, p. 80. 

13 1780.

14 DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera, vol. 4, 1994, p. 151.

15 COUTO, Dejanirah. História de Lisboa. Lisboa, Gótica, 2006.

16 The Public Transportation Company of Lisboa was founded in 1837. 

17 Mid of the 19th Century.

18 DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera, vol. 3, 1992, p. 121.

19 COUTO, Dejanirah. História de Lisboa. Lisboa, Gótica, 2006. 

20 In its turn, the contracting party would contract, in particular, different individuals whom, under their orders, would actually clean the city.

21 DIAS, Marina Tavares. Lisboa Desaparecida. Lisboa, Quimera, vol. 3, 1992, p. 127. AP 


22 Exhibition promoted by the Municipality of Lisboa, in 1978.

20th Century

Recolha de lixo das habitações, início do séc. XX
Varredura, início do séc. XX
lavagem manual, início do séc. XX
Carroça da recolha de lixo, anos 30
Estação central de Limpeza, anos 40
Camião de recolha de lixo, anos 40/50
Transferência de lixo para a fragata com destino à margem sul, até aos anos 60
Fardamento, anos 40
Recipiente para o lixo, anos 50
carro de cantoneiro, anos 60/70
carro de transporte de mangueiras, anos 60/70
Cantoneira de Limpeza, início dos anos 70
O Presidente da CML, Engº Nuno Abecassis, observa a remoção de lixo, anos 80
Equipamento de deposição de lixo, anos 80
Ecoponto, anos 90

The Development of the City: Some Brief Notes 

The end of the 19th Century was marked by the inauguration of the Avenue of Liberdade: “From then onwards, the “historic centre” of the city - the Pombaline Downtown [Baixa] – stopped being the only centralizing urban component […] for the whole urbanisation process. […] Thus, the city stopped being exclusively turned towards its “Pombaline belly button”, while at the same time the urbanizations spreading out in the exterior of that “historic centre” tended towards a progressive integration into the whole urban set of the city” (1).

But the modernization efforts of the city did not end here, they were rather multiplied. 

With the inauguration of the various sections of railway tracks Lisboa-Carregado, Lisboa-Sintra, Western Line, Eastern Line, Connection South-Southeast, Branch of Cascais, connection Lisboa-Porto, displacements became much easier and the development of business also. 

The train stations of Santa Apolónia (inaugurated in 1865) and, later on (in 1890) the station of Rossio were built at this time. 

The connection Lisboa - Paris through the sud express, made France and England much closer to Portugal. 

The appearance of the city changed, by having one more theatre – the Theatre D. Maria II, with a hotel attached to the train station of Rossio, the Hotel Avenida Palace, and by being crossed by the first tramway lines between Santa Apolónia and Ribamar (Algés). 

Seven lifts were inaugurated as a way to shorten the distances in the hills of Lisboa. Three such lifts were dismantled a few years after their construction (the lift of the Municipality connecting the Municipality to the Square of the Public Library [Largo da Biblioteca Pública], the lift of Chiado connecting Rua do Crucifixo to Rua Nova do Carmo and the lift of Estrela, a funicular connecting the Square of Camões to Estrela).

The life style in the city was changing. The existing cafes, Brasileira, Café Chiado, Martinho, started to attract more literary and political type of customers that would gather in debates and socialization, and thus the germen of the revolution started to grow. 

As the city was becoming more beautiful in the outside, new styles of furniture, more convenient and elegant, also started to move into the interior of palaces and houses, while the heavy furniture of the Pombal period would disappear.

Until the mid 20th Century, Lisboa was characterized by a continuum city-country side, while some growth lines from the centre to the periphery of the city started to appear. 

The main axes of expansion of the city were at the time the following: Sebastião-Benfica, Campo Pequeno-Lumiar, Almirante Reis-Areeiro, to which were added the river front (2) [which management became the responsibility of the Administration of the Port of Lisboa, created at that time]. 

Duarte Pacheco (3) implemented a policy of expropriation in the county of Lisboa, and approved and/or developed emblematic projects for the Estado Novo [the New State] [which intended to transform the city into the centre of the Empire and of the Portuguese World].

In a word, he branded the face of Lisboa in the 1940s. The Forest Park of Monsanto was then planted - “the lung of the city” -; new access ways were then open (4); new urbanizations were approved (5); and the construction of social neighbourhoods was started in the periphery of the city [Boavista, Encarnação, etc.]; along with the edification of new facilities for the city (6) and the inauguration of the Airport of Lisboa. 

The decade of the 50s coincided with the starting of the Metropolitan Area of Lisboa (7), which expansion towards the Southern Bank of the Tagus was facilitated by the inauguration of the bridge over the Tagus [1966].

The inception of a democratic regime in Portugal in 1974, the return of Portuguese from the former colonies and joining the European Union influenced the dynamics of Lisboa in the last quarter of the 20th Century. Definitely, the city took up a position of being the concentration pole of services, which, along with the decrease of the dwelling population and the increase of the population living in the surrounding municipalities, justified the high number of daily displacements.

From the urbanistic point of view we are now going to point out some elements that can help understand the organization of urban hygiene and cleanliness in Lisboa by the end of this century: 

The densification of the urban grid, with the creation of new residential areas [Lumiar, Charneca, Ameixoeira, Olivais, etc.];

The urban renovation in the eastern side of the city motivated by the World Exhibition Expo 1998; 

The pressing urban renovation of the historical neighbourhoods of the City   [Alfama, Chiado, Bairro Alto, Madragoa, etc.];

The construction of new areas for social housing, which enabled the demolition of the degraded constructions in the plots that supposedly belonged to the city.


Cleanliness, Health Condition and Waste in the Lisboa of the 20th Century

The increased built area of the city of Lisboa and of its roads, the transformation of the economic structure and ways of life of its population, both dwellers and commuters, determined that the processes associated to the maintenance of acceptable levels of health conditions in the city underwent a major change over the 20th Century. On the other hand, mentalities evolved, and as a consequence, so did the demands from dwellers and governing bodies of the city of Lisboa. 

The binomial health conditions - public health turned into a type of management technically guided towards the quality of life in the city and towards environmental sustainability encouraged by the European Union directives.


1. Up to the Short Term Plan for the Waste of Lisboa (PPLL) 

In the beginning of the 20th Century [1907], the City Council of Lisboa called upon itself, once again, the organization of the cleanliness of the city, integrating the staff that, until then, was performing that task. 

The waste was placed near the doorsteps in boxes and barrels, with a not very hygienic appearance, and the streets had to be watered before being swept with water, to which were added chemical substances, and which was done after mid night, to prevent the dust that was raised from disturbing the municipal citizens, especially in the Summer. 

However, already in those first years of the 20th Century, there were repeated proposals made in the sessions of the City Council for the creation of committees to study what were the best things that were being done within the scope of city cleaning in foreign countries.

It was also known that the construction of a sewage system was necessary in order to prevent the proliferation of rats and mice in the city, as well as it was also necessary to provide the houses with piped water.

While this did not happen, the Water Company was requested to increase the water flow in the water fountains spread throughout the city, and in order to help with the cleaning of the city, it was requested that many irrigation sources be placed in the city. 

In 1909 the use of covered boxes made of zinc was proposed, with 30 and 50 litres of capacity (airtight) which should be collected between 11 pm and 1 am by horse charts provided with a bell to announce to the inhabitants that they were passing by the respective streets.

The proposal to use these containers did not have any major developments until the mid of the 20th Century.

The placement of large pipes in the buildings with a waste deposit in the lower end of the pipe was also studied. The cleaning staff would then collect the waste dumped by the tenants into the said pipe.

But although the collection of waste was being ensured, its transportation to the Southern bank often did not happen due to the bad weather or to the silting of the river next to the successive loading quays.

In the 1920s, and in order to check the solutions that were found for the waste issue in other cities, those responsible for urban cleaning visited several Western European Countries, from which later followed the mechanization of urban cleaning in Lisboa. 

The vehicles chosen were of the same type as those used in Paris – with a tipping body and with capacity for 7m3 and the first proposal of acquisition counted on 10 of these vehicles. 

In terms of organization of the cleaning activities, the English system was introduced, also known as Pagefield, which keeps the use of hippo mobiles for waste collection within a radius of action not greater than 3 kilometres and the use of motor vehicles for larger distances. And that is how the first waste collection motor vehicles started to be used.

Soon after these trips, new waste collection plans were proposed for the removal of waste from the houses and new itineraries for each vehicle were proposed, in order to use up completely the capacity of the vehicles in service: 

The distribution of the waste dumps was studied around the city, avoiding as much as possible the circuits within the city;

It was established that waste collection would start at 7h, in every point of the city.

The hippo mobiles started to be used only for short distances, up to 3 kilometres, and motor vehicles for larger distances.

In the mid 1930s, the Cleaning Services had 30 motor vehicles and 439 hippo mobiles (8) and in 1939 the first motor vehicle adapted for catching dogs was acquired. The hippo mobiles continued to be used until the end of the 1950s and actually coexisted with the first motorized vehicles in the collection of waste and in washing the streets, during almost two decades. 

During the years of the 2nd World War, due to the restrictions to the supply of fuel and of all types of parts, some of the motorized vehicles became immobilized. The City had to resort to gas engines to get some of the vehicles to work, as well as to reactivate the hippo mobiles that were not in full use any more. 

In those difficult times, some of the trailers working with mechanical power were transformed into hippo mobiles. For example one Scammel waste collection trailer – with a conveyor belt - was adapted to animal power, and drawn by three horses. 

Sweeping the streets of the city was done by sweepers, with the help of iron carts, pushed around through the tortuous hills of the city. After the War, a new model of sweeper cart was adopted which, because of having tyres, would make this piece of equipment much lighter and, consequently, much lighter than the former carts. 

In the 1950s, the fleet of vehicles gradually increased and the hippo mobiles [that in 1951 amounted to a total of 65 units] started to be used, during this decade, only for supplying water to the populations and for cleaning sewage gutters and pits. 

Also in 1951 (9), with the purpose of normalizing the procedures for the deposition of garbage, the mandatory use of metal containers was finally adopted, all of them duly numbered and registered [with a capacity to hold 20L and 30L]. The intention of this measure was to prevent the garbage from becoming spread through the streets, which contributed towards the propagation of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and tetanus. 

Also with the same purpose, the authorities imposed other norms of hygiene, namely sanctioning spitting on the floor, shaking carpets on the windows and leave garbage anywhere. 

At the same time, the commercial activities that took place in the streets, such as selling fish, vegetables, bread, figs, etc., started to also use these same containers, which contributed towards a significant improvement of the appearance and hygiene of the streets of Lisboa.

Simultaneously with these measures of public hygiene, until the mid of the 20th Century, noise was another major concern of the Municipality. Through the Municipal Order of March 31st 1948 the street sellers were forbidden between 10pm and 8 am. 

In 1959, the Cleaning Services had four central support stations to the activities of the Services: the Central Station, in Rua D. Luís I; the Northern Station, in Azinhaga dos Ameixiais; the Oriental Station, in Rua de Marvila, and the Western Station, in Calçada da Boa Hora. 

The city was divided into 12 Cleaning Posts and, by this time, the number of workers collecting garbage, sweeping and washing the streets of Lisboa was approximately 1,430. 

Despite the budget constraints after the World War, the fleet was significantly increased. Thus, between 1944 and 1965 the number of vehicles allocated to the cleaning service almost tripled. 

By the end of the 1960s the first waste collection vehicle of a rotating type and with a loading box, as well as the first vehicle equipped with a containers lift were acquired. 

As a way to minimize the problem of shortage of manpower, the company Alves Ribeiro, Lda, contracted the Cleaning Services in the Central area of the City and, already in1967 for the very first time, cleaning helpers were admitted as well as female bilge guards, who reinforced the male manpower. In December of 1967 there were already 200 women allocated to these activities. 

In August 8th 1966, the last hippo mobile vehicle used for waste collection stopped working. 

In the beginning of the 1970s a major effort was made to modernize the support fleet to urban cleaning, and so several waste collection vehicles were acquired, with capacities ranging between 6 and 14m3, as well as the first small size sweeping machines, and also the first vehicles for desobstructing drainage pipes. 


2. Evolution of the Services during the 20th Century

In 1938, the cleaning of the city was under the responsibility of the Directorate of Public Cleaning Services (the DSS) and was made up by two Divisions - the 1st one for Cleaning and Watering, and the 2nd one for Urban Hygiene, which included the services of hygiene of houses, the medical-veterinary services and an individualized section for cemeteries. The mission of the Directorate of Pubic Cleaning Services was to manage the whole cleaning, hygiene and cemeteries of the city.

Under Decree-Law no. 38065, of November 24th 1950, the Directorate of Public Cleaning Services and Urban Edifications (DSSEU) was created, which also included the DSS. The DSSEU became divided into 4 divisions: the 1st for Urban Cleaning; the 2nd for Urban Hygiene, with a section for cemeteries; the 3rd for Architecture and the 4th for Urban Edifications and two sections, one for general administration and the other for accounting.

In 1967, the Transports Division became part of the Directorate of Public Cleaning Services, DSS, coming out of the responsibility of the Directorate of Especial Technical Services, and which then became named as the Division of Cleanliness and Transports. In 1968 the DSS was extinguished and became the Directorate of Public Cleaning Services and Transports, DSST.

The 1st Division of Urban Hygiene, former 2nd Division of Urban Hygiene until 1970, remained until the restructuring approved by the Municipal Assembly of December 15th 1988, at which time it was extinguished with the creation of the Municipal Directorate for Infrastructures and Sanitation, DMIS, and the Department of Urban Hygiene and Solid Waste, DHURS.

In 2002, with the restructuring of the services, the DHURS became part of the Municipal Directorate for Urban Environment and there it remained with the restructuring of the services in February 2011.


3. The Short Term Plan for Lisboa Waste 

In 1976, the structure of the responsible entity for cleaning the city – the Directorate of Public Cleaning Services and Transports [DSST] – started several studies to define the creation of an integrated system for the Lisboa waste. 

Such studies led to the approval of the Draft Short Term Plan for Lisboa Waste [PPLL] between 1978 and 1980, with the goal of responding to the issue in the short and medium term through the hermetic collection of waste. The implementation of the PPLL lead to the restructuring of the services, to the renewal of the facilities [several Cleaning Stations were rebuilt] and of the equipment, to the reformulation of the street sweeping and washing circuits, and to the specialized training of its staff, besides raising the awareness of the population of the city of Lisboa. 

As a result of the adoption of the new hermetic waste collection system, the city now had new containers for the houses and paper bins in the streets for the deposition of paper and small waste. 

Fulfilling the goals of the PPLL depended on the collaboration of all the workers involved in the implementation of the project, on the collaboration of the population, for which was fundamental the development of sanitary education programs to accompany this major restructuring of the City. Under the motto “Lisboa Clean City”, several programs were developed articulating the technical and functional aspects with the awareness raising campaigns for employees, for the population in general and for the school population. 

As far as the employees, the purpose of these initiatives was to raise their awareness towards public health at work. 

On the other hand, the intention was to inform and raise the awareness of the population towards fulfilling the appropriate standards for the disposal and collection of domestic waste in containers and paper bins, in order to turn Lisboa into a cleaner city. 

Teach habits of public hygiene and cleanliness was the main goal pursued before the school population.


4. The Destination of the Waste from the City of Lisboa 

During most of the 20th Century, more precisely until the mid 1960s, the waste produced in the city of Lisboa was transported to the Southern bank of the Tagus River, to be used for improving agricultural lands as fertilizers. The waste was carried by motorized vehicles and hippo mobiles to boats [at the service of the contractor] and would cross to an anchorage point on the left bank of the river. 

In 1938, the first experiences with fertilizers produced from waste were started at the zimo-thermal facilities of Belém in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture. The fertilizers thus produced were then applied by the Vocational School of Paiã.

But the Southern bank and the terrestrial waste dumps remained as the true destination of the waste.

When the weather was bad, neither the motorized vehicles nor the hippo mobiles were able to unload the waste, and so it was necessary to resort to emergency terrestrial dumps, created for that purpose. Over the years they had several locations: Quinta da Musgueira, in 1939; Quinta das Areias, by the Roundabout of the Airport, in 1960; Quinta da Lobeira, nearby Lumiar, in 1962. 

From January 1st 1963, all the waste produced in the city started to be deposited in this farm. Between January 1st 1963 and December 31st 1965, the Federation of the Farmers Guilds from the Province of Estremadura became the entity that acquired the waste. It also had the goal of organizing a new waste dump at the Quinta da Barroca, in Odivelas. Due to the lack of approval by the Municipality de Loures, such structure was never established, and so the waste kept being placed in the Quinta da Lobeira until the beginning of August 1963, when it started to be forwarded to the Casal da Boba, in Amadora. 

However, since the 1950s there were plans for building a central unit for the biological treatment of waste, which construction actually started in 1969 – the Waste Treatment Plant of Lisboa [ETLL]. The plant started to actually work in 1973 and had the capacity for treating 600 t/d (10), by transforming the organic portion of the waste into soil corrective materials to be applied in agriculture. In 1986 the treatment capacity of this plant – now called the Solid Waste Treatment Plant, ETRS - was expanded to 1050 t/d. 

The unused waste from this plant was deposited in the landfill of Beirolas, situated in a connected piece of land. 

When its capacity became too small, the City Council of Lisboa invested in the construction of a new sanitary landfill, situated in the Vale do Forno, which started to work in 1989, equipped with modern infrastructures, impermeable grounds, plus collection and treatment of liquid and gaseous effluents. 

The ETRS closed down in the second half of the 90s due to the EXPO 98, which was held in the oriental part of the city, exactly in the piece of land occupied by this plant. 

Since 1994, with the creation of Valorsul, S.A. (11), a major step was taken towards the treatment and final deposition of waste produced in the metropolitan area of Lisboa North [Amadora, Lisboa, Loures, Odivelas and Vila Franca de Xira]. This company became responsible for the construction and management of all the facilities required for the operation of this system, technically and environmentally very advanced, which included the following units: 

CTRSU - Solid Urban Waste Treatment Plant [in São João da Talha] (12).

CTE - Triage and Ecocentre Plant - Vale do Forno [Lisboa] (13).

AS – Sanitary Landfill of Mato da Cruz [Vila Franca de Xira] (14).

ITVE – Plant for the Treatment and Valorisation of Slag [Vila Franca de Xira] (15).

ETVO - Plant for the Organic Treatment and Valorisation of Waste [Amadora] (16).

With the publication of Decree-Law 68/2010, the multimunicipal triage, collection, valorisation and treatment system for urban solid waste for the regions of Lisboa and of the West was established, which makes up the society VALORSUL, S. A. - Valorisation and Treatment of Solid Waste for the Regions of Lisboa and the West, and extends to 19 the number of Municipalities which waste is treated by Valorsul.

The above mentioned facilities were added to the Triage centre of the West and to the Sanitary Landfill of the West.


5. Selective Collection 

Following the main trends of social and economic development of the Country, the end of the 1980s, and, especially the whole decade of the 90s, were marked by new forms of consumption that generated changes in the composition and amount of waste produced in the city of Lisboa. 

Similarly to what had already happened in other countries, and following the technical solutions and directives emanated from the European Union, the implementation of solutions aimed at the selective disposal of waste were started, with the adoption of the techniques determined by the evolution of scientific knowledge and practices of the Lisboa people. 

Between 1988 and 1989, Lisboa started the selective collection of glass for recycling, by placing [“igloo” type] glass banks in public sidewalks. In 1993, was launched the first paper recycling campaign, simultaneously with the opening of 40 Paper Collection Centres. Door to door collection of paper also started in the area of Telheiras and in the axis of the Pombaline Downtown [Baixa] – focusing on the participation of companies, of the municipal services of the City Hall of Lisboa, and of Schools, besides the general population. 

In 1997 the green points were installed in the city, and by 1999 they had already reached a universe of 990 units. Between 1997 and 2000, 2,516 tons of waste from plastic, metal and cardboard packages for edible liquids; 20,796 tons of glass and 30,629 of paper/cardboard were collected for recycling. 

2001 is a landmark in the collection of glass, paper and packages from the restaurant business and trade.

In 2003 started the selective door to door collection in specific places of the city, which translated into an increased amount of waste delivered for recycling. 

2005 was marked both by the collection of organic materials from the restaurant business, hotels and food businesses, as well as by the selective door to door collection in historic neighbourhoods, as well as by the placing of green islands in areas with collective disposal.


6. The Framework Norms 

From the legal point of view, the intervention of the City Council in the field of public hygiene and cleanliness is framed by the general legislation. Thus, Law 100/84 of March 23rd, in a very clear way establishes that municipalities are responsible for the following, within the scope of their functioning and services [sub-paragraph h], no. 4, article 51] “Deliberate on the wondering of harmful animals, especially stray dogs, and on the construction of the municipal kennel”.

With the publication of Decree-Law no. 488/85, of November 25th, for the very 1st time in Portugal the legal framework for waste management was defined, and municipalities were clearly entrusted with a significant role in the management of the waste produced. 

In Lisboa, the activity of the municipality in this field is framed since 1979 by the Regulation on Solid Waste of the City. This set of municipal norms compiles all the orientative rules of action for these services, in the light of the legislation in force.

Over the years different editions were published, the last of which in 2004 (17), introducing amendments in the light of the new legislation that was published, and improvements that the experience and practical application of the former editions had proven to be required. 

This document supports the inspecting activity of the municipality in this field, having justified the constitution of a specialized group in 1998 (18).


Sanitary and Environmental Awareness 

The implementation of the PPLL in Lisboa was closely associated to the development of information and awareness strategies aimed at motivating the dwellers and users of the city to the use of the new equipment, disseminating arguments of public hygiene and health associated to the introduction of the hermetic collection of domestic waste produced, and control of the hygiene and sanitary conditions. Social marketing in the Media, contact with the dwellers and users of the city, as well as the implementation of awareness initiatives before public schools, were the privileged means to achieve that goal, along with the creation of a section aimed at serving municipal citizens – the Public Relations Office (19).

The restructuring of the municipal services in 1992 considered the Department of Urban Hygiene and Solid Waste a structure which main mission is to inform, to raise awareness and environmental education in the field of waste, thus responding to the concerns emanating from the Conference of Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and, in particular, to the guidelines put forward in the document of Agenda 21.

The bet on training the new generations has been, since 1993, one of the main focuses, materialised in programs that continuously develop in basic official schools of the city of Lisboa: the programs “Clean Lisboa Looks Nicer” (20) and “School by School, For the Environment” (21).

Over the years, these programs have included the production and distribution of pedagogic materials, recreational and didactic activities [entertainment games, dramas, etc.], study visits, and stand out for the continuity and involvement of the whole school communities. 

The action principles “think globally, act locally” have been the basis for the participation of leaders and communities, since 1996, in the development of projects in historical neighbourhoods of the county and residential areas of social construction, motivated by the changes in the waste collection system of the city, in a strategy that is intended to continue. 

The intervention strategy is based upon the methodologies of Social Marketing in order to draw the citizens into the adoption of more appropriate and cooperative behaviours for the construction of a better environment in the city.



1 FERREIRA, Vítor Matias. A Cidade de Lisboa: de Capital do Império a Centro da Metrópole. Lisboa, Dom Quixote, 1987, p. 85. 

2 BARROS, M.ª Armanda. O desenvolvimento de Lisboa 1890 a 1940. In: Revista Municipal [Magazine], no. 71, p. 26-31. Quoted by: FERREIRA, Vítor Matias. A Cidade de Lisboa: de Capital do Império a Centro da Metrópole. Lisboa, Dom Quixote, 1987, p. 86. 

3 Mayor of Lisboa between 1938 and 1943, along with heading the Ministry of Public Works. 

4 The Avenue of Ceuta in Alcântara and the Riverfront Avenue and the highway to the Estoril, roads to access the area of the Estoril. 

5 Of the Sítio de Alvalade, the Encosta da Ajuda, the Encosta de Palhavã and the Road of Benfica and the Ring road [Circunvalação]. 

6 Of which the University Campus and the Higher Technical Institute [Instituto Superior Técnico] are examples.

7 According to Law 10/2003 of May 13th, presently the Metropolitan Area of Lisboa includes the following counties: Alcochete, Almada, Amadora, Azambuja, Barreiro, Cascais, Lisboa, Loures, Mafra, Moita, Montijo, Odivelas, Oeiras, Palmela, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setúbal, Sintra and Vila Franca de Xira. For further information please consult: www.aml.pt [September 05]. 

8 Animal power vehicle, with driver. In Lisboa these vehicles were used for the collection of garbage. 

9 Fulfilling the Order of August 15th 1939, approved during the period of Duarte Pacheco as the Mayor. 

10 Tons per day. 

11 Concessionary society responsible for the integrated management of urban solid waste in the metropolitan area of Lisboa North. 

12 Aimed at incineration of the urban solid waste, started its activity in 2000. 

13 Units that enable, respectively, the selective separation of urban solid waste collected in the 5 counties that integrate Valorsul and the reception of waste. Its activity started in 2002. 

14 Started its activity in 1998. 

15 This unit receives and treats slags from CTRSU, and was inaugurated in 2000. 

16 Started to operate in February of 2005. 

17 Deliberation no. 64/AM/98. In: Boletim Municipal, no. 241 of October 1st 1998. 

18 The action of the Inspection Office was recognised as exemplary, having received the National Award for Municipal Excellence in 1999. 

19 This office was recognised as an entity with Good Practices of Municipal Administrative Modernization in 2003, 2004 and 2005. 

20 Started in the school year of 1993-1994, aimed at the 1st cycle of basic education and extended to the Kinder Gardens in 1998-1999. 

21 Started in the school year of 1997-98 and had as its priority target the public schools of the 2nd, and 3rd cycles of public education, while also supporting initiatives in public and private secondary schools, and in technical and vocational schools.