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Summit focuses on Spanish plastics recycling

Spain – How is plastics recycling organised in Spain and where do the domestic industry’€™s main challenges lie exactly? Those were the key questions relating to the host country of this year’€™s International Waste Plastics Summit, staged by the German raw materials and waste management association BVSE.

Experts from recycling companies throughout Spain gave the 400 delegates an extensive update on the sector’€™s current status, confirming a domestic plastics recycling rate increase from 7% in 1996 to 29.2% in 2010 to better the EU target of 22.5%.

As a result, Spain is in ninth position in the EU recycling league table, stated Jiménez Caldeiro on behalf of Spanish recycling player Cicloplast. According to him, the main markets for recycled plastics are tubes (26%), garbage bags (11%), films and bags (23%), bottles and containers (5%), industrial components (15%), and furniture, shoes and clothes hangers (20%).

However, 60% of plastics continue to be landfilled. Cicloplast identifies as the most pressing challenges the extremely heterogeneous nature of the material flows, the lack of markets for recycled materials, thin raw materials and high organic contamination.

A ban on landfilling could prove to be a remedy, Mr Caldeiro believes, as it would enable the country to ‘€˜finally strengthen the existing recycling infrastructure’€™. However, he fears that this ‘€˜will not happen overnight’€™ as such a change carries ‘€˜too big a risk’€™ that energy recovery might initially benefit more than recycling.

The use of recycled plastics for food packaging ‘€˜has great potential in Spain’€™, underlined Mercedes Gómez – a representative of non-profit organisation Ecoembes which has conceived a management system for the separate collection and recycling of paper, metal and plastics packaging. The system has succeeded in collecting more than 700 000 tons of plastics from households annually, recycling some 50% of the plastic packaging.

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