Although there is still much to do when it comes to creating guidelines for recycling among Spanish citizens and although we could still be much more efficient as a society when managing our waste, we citizens have become accustomed separating certain waste. This is the case of paper, but also glass (of which 73% is recycled in Spain) or packaging. These materials are, at the end, the ones that have easily accessible separate waste containers in different locations. This makes it not only easier to deposit the waste, but also to remember that before throwing away the garbage, this separation must be done.

The latest figures from Ecoembes on packaging recycling invite to optimism. According to their data, during 2017 each inhabitant in Spain deposited an average of 13.96 kilograms of containers in the yellow recycling bin. These numbers suppose, in addition, an improvement against the figures of the previous year. In 2017, we recycled 5.76% more containers than we recycled in 2016.

To achieve these results, it was needed the collaboration of more than 12,000 companies and 8,000 municipalities who collaborate with the recycling of packaging and that employ or support the network of 378,272 yellow containers located throughout the Spanish geography. 85% of all recycled containers arrive from street containers and the remaining 15% from other collection points.
Following Ecoembes’ statistics, there are paper and packaging recycling bins located every 100 meters. This covers already a 99% of the Spanish population. It is not surprising to discover that a quarter of everything that is recycled in Spain is packaging.

Thanks to these recycling processes, 1.36 million tons of raw material or 20.15 million cubic meters of water have already been saved and the emission of 1.2 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere has been avoided.
But, although the numbers are good and invite to optimism, there are still many things that can be done and recycling figures can be improved. The population has to improve the deposition of its waste, be much more aware of the impact that this waste has on the environment and integrate recycling actions better in its day to day. Waste managers, in turn, must also process the garbage that citizens generate better and more efficiently.

For example, there is still much to improve in the recycling habits of plastic (only 44% of all the plastic thrown away in Spain is recycled) or in the general recycling habits. According to Eurostat statistics, Spain is still far from being on the European level. The average waste recycling rate in Spain is still 33.3%. In Europe, however, 45% of all waste generated is already being recycled.

To this, we must add that there is still people who doubt what should be thrown in each container and how to sort their garbage. The yellow container is possibly, in fact, the one that arouses more doubts about what can or cannot be deposited in it. Users tend to think that all plastic can be thrown in it, when the truth is not all plastic can go in this bin and some has to be deposited in other collection spaces, such as “clean points”.

Therefore, you should not lower your guard. Citizens' awareness and education campaigns continue to be very important, as it is having the most appropriate and efficient tools and equipment to manage waste. Solutions such as Picvisa's Ecopack optical sorter, which classifies different types of plastics, allow improving the performance of waste treatment facilities and improving the overall potential in terms of recycling.
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