It is quite probable that, for many Spaniards, glass was the first material they recycled. Recycling bins for some materials, such as plastic, appeared later than glass. That is why, Spaniards were used to glass recycling bins before the others and that they have assumed before the importance of recycling this material, also.
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. Making a kind of generalization, 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), it is because the act of separating glass has become quite integrated into Spanish society. 79% of Spaniards always recycle glass when they throws 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 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 the recycling of glass each year allow to reduce the emissions in some 504.000 tonnes of CO2. In the last twenty years of glass recycling in Spain, what has been saved in emissions has been the equivalent of eliminating 2 million vehicles - and their emissions - from the road.
To understand the impact that glass recycling has on energy consumption, another extrapolation can be used: the energy saving that has enabled the recycling of glass that has been achieved on average per year until now would be equivalent to maintaining the Madrid's energy consumption for 5 months.
A long way to go
But these figures should not suggest that everything has been achieved and that everything that can be achieved has already 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 to, aspire 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, encouraging them to deposit their containers in the bins reserved for this purpose.
It is also necessary to incorporate suitable machines to the treatment of garbage to improve the results when separating the glass and making its way to its new life more efficient. PICVISA’s Ecoglass, for example, an optical separation equipment 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 you must work to make them so.