Clever Waste Management in Spain

We’ve got a quite positive picture of Spain’s waste management. Even if the country still ranks in the middle field in official European statistics on how much waste is recycled Spanish politicians make marks and do what needs to be done for building up a properly working recycling system in the right order.


At first they try to ensure that recycling enterprises can be delivered with enough secondary raw materials. All over the country – at least along our route we didn’t find a gap – recycling bins for paper and cardboard (blue), glass (green) and light packaing like plastics and cans (yellow) have been placed along the streets. Mostly the recycling bins are situated next to the bin for remaining household waste. With their vivid colors they are easy to find and you never have to walk far before you find recycling bins. Finding recycling bins for glass in Germany is much harder. At some places we have seen city maps which indicated where recycling bins were situated. In the large harbor of Puerto de Pollensa that map helped. In other places it wouldn’t have been necessary as anyway we couldn’t miss the bins.


It seems that now the Spanish governments or local authorities start to inform the population on how important recycling is for the future. At least in La Palma de Gran Canaria the whole city was covered with posters saying „Recycling is in your hands. Lets recycle in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.“


In Las Palmas we’ve also seen unconventional containers for collecting batteries and glass. The containers had a high-class design and they are not only used as containers for the collection of recyclable goods but also as carrier for poster advertising. Seeing an advertisement for one of Europe’s hottest fashion labels „Desigual“ on a stylish container where empty glass bottles can be deposited for recycling, makes us feel good, because it seems that here are clever people at work, who manage to combine in a pleasant manner the Uuseful with the Necessary. We now like „Desigual“ even a bit more and each time we see an advertisement we watch out whether it is installed at a normal poster wall or again at one those interesting „collection points for things that can be recycled“. Something of that kind should exist everywhere.


In Los Barrios, next to the frontier between Spain and Gibraltar with the help of our friends from Environment Safety Gibraltar (ESG) we discovered a modern waste sorting and recycling plant in Spain. Also Gibraltar’s household waste goes to Los Barrios and we find that this makes a lot of sense. Such plants are expensive and can only be run economically if their capacity can be fully used. Therefore it seems coherent that they can only be built when the waste stream they need is secured for years. We think it’s good that people from ESG are interested in knowing how their waste is disposed and provide unbiased information on their website.


To sum up: Our picture of Spanish Waste Management is more positive than the complaints we heard from some locals. Also in Spain often waste is being disposed in the wrong bin and in a large country like Spain and especially on the islands landfill still is the most common way of waste disposal. People who sorted their garbage properly and then find out that it still ends up on the same dump as always are speechless - what is easily understandable. Anyhow we see in Spain a lot of signs which make us believe that the country is in the process of setting up a sound waste management and raw material recovery system. Some of the ideas we’ve seen in Spain could inspire a lot of other communities elsewhere in the world. At any rate COPLARE is going to spread throughout the world words and photos of the good ideas we have seen so far!


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