It is quite probable that glass was the first material many Spaniards ever recycled. Recycling bins for some materials, such as plastic, appeared later. That is why, Spaniards are more used to glass recycling bins and have assumed before the importance of recycling this material.
According to figures from Ecovidrio, in Spain, 73% of the glass that reaches the hands of citizens and that is no longer used for them is recycled. Generalizing, one could say that out of every 100 glass bottles that circulate in the market, 73 of them end their days in a green recycling bin.
If these good results have been achieved (although they are still slightly below the EU's 2020 glass recycling targets), is because the action of separating glass has become quite integrated into the Spanish society: 79% of Spaniards always recycle glass when throwing away their garbage.
On average, each Spaniard recycles around 62 containers per year, which means 16.2 kilograms of glass per person per year. The estimate based on the recycling data of the last decade allows us to talk about 1.000 recycled containers per inhabitant.
Why it is important to recycle glass
This behavior is very positive not only because of its civic aspect but also because of the impact it has on the environment. Recycling glass allows us to be much more respectful with the environment, since it makes it possible to reduce polluting emissions and avoid wasting energy.
Following with the numbers of Ecovidrio, the figures of glass recycling allow reducing the emissions in 504.000 tons of CO2 each year. In the last twenty years of glass recycling in Spain, the equivalent of eliminating 2 million vehicles - and their emissions - from the road has been saved.
To understand the impact that glass recycling has on energy consumption, another extrapolation can be used: the energy saving achieved on average per year would be equivalent to maintaining Madrid's energy consumption for 5 months.
A long way to go
However, these figures do not suggest everything has been achieved, since in reality there is still a long way to go. Not only to glass collection but also to glass conversion into new products and new material. The final objective must be to match and even exceed the glass recycling objectives imposed by the European Union. Nothing prevents us from aspiring to a time when 100% of the glass that passes through the hands of consumers is recycled.
To do this, we must continue to make consumers aware of the importance of recycling and encouraging them to deposit their containers in the bins reserved for this purpose.
It is also necessary to incorporate suitable equipment to the treatment of waste to improve the results when separating the glass and making its way to its new life more efficient. PICVISA’s Ecoglass, for example, is an optical sorter that allows the classification of glass and a wide range of materials. It also does it at a high speed, thanks to a state-of-the-art technology capable of processing data more efficiently.
All glass containers can be recycled and therefore we must work to recycle them all.