78.8% of plastic, metal, tetra-brik, paper and cardboard domestic packaging placed on the market in Spain is now recycled, demonstrating the great commitment of Spaniards to recycling, an area in which citizen participation is vital. According to Eurostat, Spain has the sixth highest packaging recycling rate in Europe, ahead of France and Portugal, a fact which highlights the obvious success of the current Spanish recycling management model.


Nonetheless, despite the very positive figures, Ecoembes, the organisation which coordinates recycling in Spain, wishes to continue innovating in the quest for new solutions adapted to the daily lives of citizens, whilst helping local authorities build responsible, sustainable towns. This goal can only be achieved through listening, evolution and firm commitment to innovation and technology.

The implementation of leading-edge technology in the recycling process is already a reality. In Spain, we are currently implementing technologies such as container fill level sensors, automated waste sorting plants and the first virtual recycling assistant (A.I.R-e, which might be described as the Siri of recycling). All of these innovations have made the process of waste collection, transportation, sorting and recycling more and more efficient and sustainable.

Nonetheless, we must continue to make progress, in line with social changes and requirements. We must continue along the road towards smart city models, where, according to the United Nations definition, priority must be given to technology as a tool to optimise the efficiency and economy of cities, provided that this technology serves to improve the quality of life of citizens and protect nature. In other words, we must advance towards Recycling 5.0.

Innovation and technology with purpose and reward

With the focus on continuing to increase citizen awareness in the area of recycling and also increasing the packaging recycling rate, Ecoembes has launched a pioneering technology initiative: “Recycling 5.0”. Developed at TheCircularLab, the Ecoembes openinnovation, circular economy centre, which is the first of its kind in Europe, this project is investigating new alternatives to foster citizen mobilisation in the area of recycling, using technology as the driving force.

Published in: Nº62 FuturENVIRO July 2019