2019, another great year for selective glass collection in Spain

In 2019, Spaniards once again played their part in improving sustainability in our country. And we at Ecovidrio, in collaboration with public authorities, bars, restaurants and local bodies, have helped to make the collection figures possible. 896,450 t of glass jars and bottles were collected in the green containers in 2019, a new all-time high.

We closed 2019 with more good news. An all-time record of 896,450 tonnes of glass jars and bottles was collected in the green containers. With each passing year, we are coming ever closer to the million-tonne mark, a figure which we feel sure will be reached sooner or later. The 2019 figure means that collection rates have grown by 30% in the last five years and it represents an increase of 6.6% on 2018. In addition to selective collection of glass through the green container, Ecovidrio managed the collection of 62,275 tonnes through 19 Municipal Solid Waste treatment plants. In a context marked by climate emergency, Spaniards continue to be committed and continue to visit the green containers with growing frequency. In 2019, each citizen deposited an average of 19 kg in the green container, the equivalent of around 65 jars or bottles per person. Our management model, which has now been in place for over 20 years, is the same as the model implemented in leading European countries, such as Belgium (which has a 100% collection rate) and Switzerland (which recycles 94%). It is a model that continues to give rise to higher recycling rates year after year.

By Autonomous Community, the ‘ranking’ of regions that most recycle continues to be headed by the Balearic Islands (31.6 kg/ capita), Euskadi (28.4 kg/capita), La Rioja (28.2 kg/capita), Navarra (26.6 kg/capita) and Catalonia (22.5kg/capita). By provincial capital, San Sebastián (42.0 kg/capita), Pamplona (30.7 kg/capita), Bilbao (23.9 kg/capita), Palma de Mallorca (23.7 kg/capita) and Barcelona (23.4 kg/capita) have proved themselves to be the most committed cities.

For us, container deployment and the provision of means are an indispensable part of our model. Every year, we strive to improve in this respect. Spain currently has a total of 230,950 containers for the recycling of glass bottle and jar. In 2019 alone, Ecovidrio installed a further 5,873 new igloo-type containers. Spain now has an average of 1 container for every 204 inhabitants, one of the highest rates in Europe.

20 years ago, Ecovidrio took a firm strategic decision to manage directly and be 100% involved in the collection of used glass bottles and jars. In other words, we seek to have total control over container deployment and the collection service itself in each municipality. As of today, this model is implemented in 60% of Spanish cities, including San Sebastian, Palencia, Pamplona and Bilbao, the country’s leading recycling cities. But we are not content to settle for 60% of municipalities. We continue to have the same enthusiasm as we had on day one and our aim is to extend this model to strategic cities whose management could be more effective and efficient.

José Fuster, Chief Operating Office at Ecovidrio

Published in: FuturENVIRO Nº 70 May-June 2020