More than half of Spanish waste is not recycled


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Last 2019, the Spanish generated 476 kilos of waste per person, a figure significantly lower than the average of the 27 partners of the European Union and far from the data registered in neighboring countries such as France with 546 kg / per capita, according to data from the Cotec report on circular economy. However, Spain shows itself to be one of the students furthest behind when it comes to complying with community obligations in the reuse and recycling of waste.

The European roadmap towards a circular economy is clear, but “we are far from achieving it”, says Cristina Garmendia, president of the Cotec Foundation. The organization’s conclusions are clear “there is much to be done”, they point out in the presentation, although “it is an opportunity”, they add.

Last 2019, the data provided is biannual, reflecting that 54% of municipal waste ends up in Spanish landfills, this figure is five times the limit set by the European Union for 2035, which must be below 10%.

An unsustainable and non-reusable trip, since this end causes the waste to end up in remote places in the cities waiting for its natural decomposition or, in other cases, buried underground.

Thus, last 2019 the Spanish landfills received a total of 257 kg for each Spaniard. “Significant deficiencies are observed in the management of resources,” Garmendia denounces.

This trend is particular to Spain, since the final journey of waste from most European countries is not the landfill. But neither, in the latter case, is it reuse, however in the EU as a whole this indicator was reduced by 50% between 2000 and 2019, but the percentage of incineration increased from 16% to 27%.

suspended in circularity

The report provides data that shows that Spain is still far from being circular. In this sense, it points out that in 2019 only 10% of the total material requirements were covered by recovered material.

It is, however, a figure close to the average circular use of materials recorded by the EU-27 (11.8%), although well below that of other territories such as the Netherlands (30%) or France (20 %). Finland is one of the countries with the lowest circular use of materials (6.3%).

“Spain has only made timid progress,” warns the president of the Cotec Foundation. In fact, the data for Spain on the use of recovered material, if the view is broadened, are below those marked in 2010. «To speak of circularity in Spain in a European context is to show that we are in a phase of delay with the rest of the countries”, explains Luis Jiménez Herrero, president of the Association for the Sustainability and Progress of Societies (ASYPS) and co-author of the text. “There is a very long way to go to be completely circular,” he highlights.

The current situation of the circular economy in Spain requires an urgent transformation, according to the Cotec report, in favor of measures focused especially on repairability and durability, although also aimed at recycling products, preventing food waste, advances in eco-design, eco-innovation and greater public awareness.

However, the authors of the report value the progress in the development of circular economy plans, programs and regulations at all public administrative levels. However, they warn that it is still premature to see its impact, since they point out that they are at an early stage with partial progress.

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