Disposal by citizens in the yellow container increased by 12.3%, the same as in the three previous years put together. A total of 1,453,123 tonnes of plastic packaging, cans, and paper and cardboard containers were recycled, thereby preventing the emission of 1.6 million tonnes of CO2. The deployment of 10,000 new containers and the installation of 7,400 recycling centres in places with high influxes of people, along with growing environmental awareness of citizens and concern about plastics contributed to these results.
The commitment of Spanish society to recycling domestic packaging increased greatly in 2018. During a presentation of the recycling figures for 2018, Ecoembes – the non-profit organisation that coordinates packaging recycling in Spain – highlighted the fact that each citizen deposited 12.3% more in the yellow container than during the previous year. In other words, last year, every Spaniard separated and deposited 15.7 kg of plastic, cans and tetrabrik waste in the yellow container for subsequent recycling.
This, the largest increase in the 22-year history of the recycling of this type of waste in Spain, was driven by increasing environmental awareness on the part of citizens and growing concern for the pollution caused by abandoned plastic. In fact, the increase in the amount of waste deposited in the yellow container in 2018 was the same as the total increase over the three preceding years. Moreover, the increase of 12.3% is far higher than the 2.3% increase in consumption. This commitment was also reflected in the figures for deposits in the blue container, up 12.4% on 2017, meaning that 18.1 kg of paper and cardboard packaging was separated for subsequent recycling by each citizen.
These figures show that in 2018, citizens had fewer doubts and faced fewer obstacles in terms of separating and depositing packaging waste, which they had previously thrown into the bin, in the correct container, thus enabling better recycling. This made it possible to recycle 1,453,123 tonnes of packaging in 2018. This figure, which helped to prevent the emission of 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 and enabled the saving of 20.3 million cubic metres of water, represents a recycling rate of 78.8% (compared to the rate of 65% set by the EU for 2025). Once again, the domestic packaging waste managed by Ecoembes is the greatest driving force behind recycling in Spain, despite the fact that it accounts for just 8% of all municipal waste generated.
By material type, the recycling rate for plastic packaging was 75.8%, six percentage points higher than the previous year. A recycling rate of 85.4% was achieved for metal packaging, such as soft drinks and tinned food cans, while the rate for the paper and cardboard packaging deposited in the blue container was 80.0%.