Plastics waste recycling by domestic households in Spain grew by almost 11% last year to reach nearly 411,000 tonnes last year.
The annual total of 410,845 tonnes is seven times greater than was recycled nationally in 2000, according to Cicloplast, the non-profit Spanish recycling organisation.
This growth was achieved in recent years thanks to more efficient selection of waste material by citizens in national plastics ‘yellow igloo' bins, by increased automated sorting and improved technology at the country's 36 plastics recycling plants.
The results were described as “good” by Cicloplast's director Teresa Martínez, although she stressed that there are limitations to the options for recycling different plastics waste material whether it is a white milk bottle, a gel pack, a candy wrapper or a plastic piece of a toy.
“But the good news is that all plastics, one way or another, do have value, either as (recycled) material or for energy,” she added when presenting Cicloplast's annual report.
While EU countries most committed to the environment, such as Germany, Sweden and Denmark, have rates of energy recovery from plastic waste above 60%, which increases annually, Spain “continues to stagnate” with a rate of just 17%, according to the organisation.
Spain has already met and exceeded the target of recycling plastic packaging set by the EU's European Directive at 22.5%, reaching a rate of 40.7% for all packaging: domestic, commercial and industrial.
But there are fresh legislative challenges for recycling, especially for municipal waste with the EU's Waste Framework Directive and Spain's National Waste Plan (PEMAR) both setting a 50% target for all municipal waste, pointed out Cicloplast.
Although plastics still represents a small part of municipal waste in Spain, at between just 6% -9%, Cicloplast believes the material can play a significant role in meeting the new recycling target.
“At Cicloplast, we consider that the contribution of plastics to the 50% target could be 100,000 tonnes more of plastic packaging containers from the household recycled by 2020,” declared Martínez.
Cicloplast, which represents the Spanish plastics industry including polymer producers and converters, is also a member of the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations (EPRO).