Catalonia recycled 78% of plastic and cardboard in 2011

Citizens in Catalonia recycled 78% of waste plastic and cardboard in 2011. A report by Ecoembes shows that in 2011 221,500 tonnes of waste packaging was recycled, although 28% of waste plastic and cardboard was not suitable for recycling. The stealing of waste from street containers represented a problem. The city of Barcelona lost €2 million due to the increase in thefts of cardboard and plastic prompted by the crisis.

CNA / Esther Romagosa / David Tuxworth

September 5, 2012 11:27 PM

Barcelona (ACN.) – Citizens in Catalonia recycled 78% of packaging waste in 2011, specifically cardboard, plastic and cans (75% in 2010). Throughout the year 221,500 tonnes of waste packaging was sorted and collected in Catalonia, according to a report by Ecoembes, the company in charge of the recycling bins for those materials. Unfortunately 28% of plastic and cardboard waste is not suitable for recycling and in the majority of cases should be brought to a household waste recycling centre. The crisis has reduced the volume of waste whereas theft (especially of paper and cardboard) has increased, with €2 million worth of losses in the city of Barcelona.

According to the Director General of the Waste Agency of Catalonia, Josep Maria Tost, the Catalan Government is committed to “getting citizens to recycle more” in the coming years. In this sense, the Government with financial support from Ecoemebes plans to launch a campaign at the end of this year to increase public awareness of the importance of recycling and also how to recycle correctly.     

Currently, 86% of Catalan citizens say that they recycle plastic and 85% say they recycle cardboard and paper using municipal recycling bins. According to Óscar Martín, Director General of Ecoembes, in 2011 each Catalan citizen recycled an average of 15.2kgs of plastic and metal cans and 23.7 kg of paper and cardboard, which is 78% of waste packaging. However, the problem is that the waste chosen for recycling is often not suitable and some items should be brought to a household waste recycling centre.

More accurate selection of waste chosen for recycling makes the whole system more efficient since collections are improved and costs in recycling facilities are reduced. Tost adds that it also promotes economic savings. It is for precisely this reason that the Waste Agency of Catalonia is launching a new campaign at the end of the year to promote recycling.

Catalonia recycles 41% of its household waste

Tost said that the total amount of waste recycled by the 4 million households in Catalonia was 41%. This figure includes among other things organic waste, textiles and glass. However this percentage is far from that achieved by some European countries such as Germany and Austria where they recycle between 60% and 70% of household waste.

The recycling rate is marginally better than in 2010 (40.6%) and according to the public institution it is not a larger increase due to several factors. Firstly, the economic crisis has caused a fall in consumption and consequently a fall in waste generation. Also there has been a more “relaxed” attitude to recycling by the public. In addition, there has been an increase in thefts of recycled waste.

2,000 tons of paper and cardboard are stolen in Barcelona each month

According to Tost, there has only been a significant increase in the number of thefts from communal recycling bins. In the city of Barcelona, in the case of paper and cardboard, thefts rose by 50% in certain districts. Tost calculates that, 2,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard were stolen per month in 2011. For example, Barcelona lost €2 million due to the thefts last year.

The Waste Agency of Catalonia estimates that by cracking down on theft from communal recycling bins, the recycling rate in Catalonia could have rose from 40.6% in 2010 to nearly 60% last year.