Now that the first half of 2020 has passed, it is known that the growing trend in the recycling of domestic plastic packaging has continued in Spain during 2019. Throughout this year, up to 616,736 tonnes of this material were recycled, a figure 8% higher than the total for the previous year.

This is reflected in the latest data presented by Cicloplast, the non-profit organization that works to promote the recycling of plastics at the end of their useful life, in any of its applications: packaging, agriculture, automobile, construction, etc. The figures indicate that the message is (finally) getting through.    

 

Increased public awareness of recycling

Although an increase in this sense can be understood at first sight as positive, in this case, there is still another element for optimism. It could be that this increase is directly related to greater consumption. But this is not the case: it seems to be the result of a better practice of citizenship. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), household consumption only increased by 1.1%, so that the 8% increase in plastic recycling would be a result of greater public awareness and action.

In 2019, each Spaniard separated for recycling 13.2 kg of domestic plastic containers, almost 1 kg more per inhabitant than in 2018 and 10 more than two decades ago. If we break down the results by Autonomous Communities, the recycling figures for household plastic packaging have increased in almost all of them. The Valencian Community (16.4 kg/inhabitant), the Basque Country (15.3 kg/inhabitant), the Canary Islands (14.8 kg/inhabitant), Andalusia (14.5 kg/inhabitant), Catalonia (14.4 kg/inhabitant) and Castile-La Mancha (13.2 kg/inhabitant) are above average.

Moreover, this growing trend recorded throughout 2019 has been maintained in 2020, according to a study on sustainability, environmental commitment and post-covid recycling carried out by Ecoembes. It points out that more than 2.5 million Spaniards (6.7% of the population) declare that they have begun to separate, for subsequent recycling, incorporating this new habit in their daily lives. It seems that the population is more self-conscious.

 

European recycling goal for 2025 achieved

There’s still more data to celebrate. If all types of plastic packaging (domestic, commercial and industrial) are taken into account, in 2019 Spain reached the recycling rate of 50.7%, which means that it exceeded the European Union’s goal of 50% by 2025.

In the European ranking, the country continues being the leader in the recycling of household plastics, being also one of the countries that has grown the most. This was stated in the 2018 report by EPRO (European Plastic Recycling and Recovery Organization), which places Spain in first place (12.3 kg/inhabitant), surpassing countries such as Germany (11 kg/inhabitant), Italy (10 kg/inhabitant), the United Kingdom (8.1 kg/inhabitant) and France (4.4 kg/inhabitant), among others.

It is important to bear in mind that Europe will change the methodology for calculating plastic recycling next year, which is expected to result in lower recycling rates in all Member States. However, the efforts made in Spain in this field cannot be ignored.

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