According to Eurostat data, Spain recycles approximately 34.7% of its urban waste a correct figure, but far from the countries that lead this list – Germany (66.7%), Slovenia (59.2%) and Austria (58.2%) and even more than 10 points below the European average, 47.7%. Soon the criteria to measure the percentage will be changed (the stabilized material that is deposited in landfills will no longer be considered as recycled) and then Spain will fall even more. Environmental organizations warn you to have to change your mentality.

The systems that we are currently using do not give more of themselves warns Carlos Arribas, waste manager at Ecologistas en Accion. In his opinion, we need a structural change and install more efficient systems the yellow container has already reached the top it has no path. Adriana Espinosa, waste and natural resources manager at Friends of the Earth, agrees with him There are no instruments that allow recycling to take place the container system is not working.

Arribas is committed to mandatory separation, instead of the voluntary model that is used right now. The most efficient way, he explains, is through changing collection systems.” Thus, he believes that containers with the registration of each household or door-to-door collection would improve the recycling percentages.

Thus, the main mistake that has been made, in his opinion, has been putting the ball on the roof of awareness. What is not collected separately is not recycled and that message, Arribas considers has not been provided to the people. Reality is not being put before him.


In any case, the overall performance in Spain is suspenseful, according to Espinosa. Between the good or notable of the citizens, the four who obtain recycling in general, and the zero patterns that the legislation on reuse, repairability, and duration of products takes, the average is far from the cut-off mark requested by the European Union and the planet itself.

This situation means that, although there is a will to recycle, the results do not follow. People do everything possible to separate to recycle there is awareness admits Espinosa. The problem is that the separate waste collection system is not providing the results it should provide especially in the case of packaging.

In this sense, Arribas believes that if recycling systems are improved, a huge door will open through which dozens of more efficient systems and tools can pass. Once the filtered garbage reaches the treatment plants, many technologies can be implemented.

A possible solution that Espinosa points to would-be deposit systems in which a few cents are received when returning the containers, something that is already used in other countries. This also could serve for what he considers another key the need to change consumption and production habits.


Right now all beverage bottles, be they glass, plastic, or aluminum, are designed to be bought, used, and thrown away, he argues. This conception, Espinosa warns, supposes a brutal waste of natural resources.

We have to think about the waste hierarchy, he explains. We are talking about recycling waste, dealing with the problem once we have it. What should be done, something in which the European Union agrees would be to work to avoid generating waste. Recycling must be the last of the solutions.

The reality today is that not all the waste that is currently generated can be recycled. Espinosa, in fact, is blunt recycling is not going to be the solution. We have to bet on products that are more ecological, that reduce the number of raw materials, that are durable, that can be repaired and reused. And it is in this aspect that the legislation receives the zero pattern with which Espinosa summarizes and suspends the current situation. We are not doing anything.

The product is dominated by this concept of buy, use, and throw, he laments. And this is not limited to a field of daily consumption, which is usually the one we have in mind when recycling but can be extrapolated to the consumption of technological products today it is easier to buy a new computer than to change the piece that breaks.

Arribas adds another concept to this idea ecodesign. In his opinion, instead of resorting to objects such as bricks one of the most difficult packaging to recycle, as it is made up of aluminum-plastic and cardboard, we should opt for packaging that can be easily recycled or reused. And not only promote it with directives but also with information engage consumers in the process even before it reaches their cart. The act of purchase is also related to the generation of waste.