Positive trend but lack of a greater social culture on the importance of recycling. These are two of the main conclusions of the report ‘The state of plastic recycling’, prepared by Hi-Cone, which reveals that 54% of Spaniards have problems understanding the recycling of different types of plastics. This ignorance causes that two out of three people end up not recycling as much plastic as they should, mainly due to a desmotivation problem.

In fact, this document warns that only 40% of Spanish consumers understand what circular economy means and that, despite this, they see the separation of waste at home as very positive. So much so that nine out of ten people regularly use the containers in their city to dispose of waste, surpassing the United Kingdom by almost thirty points and doubling the percentage of the United States. Currently, there are approximately 390,000 yellow containers in the country for recycling plastic, cans and bricks.

Greater work capacity

According to Directive 2008/98/EC, of ​​November 19, 2008, 50% of municipal waste in the member states of the European Union (EU) must be treated for reuse and recycling. However, despite what citizens assure, according to Eurostat, in Spain this figure is 34.7%. Meanwhile, the European Commission states that the rate of discharges in the country is around 50%. In other words, it seems that the population can still recycle more in the coming years, although public authorities must make more efforts to get plastic and other materials that can be reused to the companies in charge of it.

Spain is 15 points below the urban waste reuse and recycling rate set by Europe

Along these lines, the report ‘rPET: the best solution to guarantee the circularity of packaging’, prepared by the Center for Innovation and Development for the Circular Economy (Cidec), points out that “there is a greater demand for recycled plastic than for supply, especially in recycled PET or rPET”. And it is not for lack of a private infrastructure of companies that are dedicated to this work, since, according to official data, there are around 140 companies that deal with plastic recycling, and that, together, they were able to process in around 1.1 million tons in 2020.

Among these organizations you will find RepetCo, offers its own patented system, respectful with the environment, through PET / PE multilayer food packaging of post-consumer origin. Through a unique process, rPET pellets and rPE are generated that can be reused in the food industry with trays and containers made of multilayer PET/PE sheets; in bottles for soft drinks or detergents; and in fibers for the textile and automobile industry.

A study affirms that in Spain there is a greater demand for recycled plastic than for supply

Normative regulation and awareness campaigns

In addition to improving public recycling systems, motivating consumers to recycle more can be achieved through two possible paths, although both can go hand in hand. From a regulatory point of view, there are many expectations placed on the new Waste Law, which is still pending final approval, and which, among other milestones, aims to establish that, by 2025, PET bottles contain 25% recycled plastic, a percentage which will rise to 30% as of 2030.

On the other hand, it seems necessary to invest more in educating consumers on the benefits of the 3Rs: reducing the use of virgin plastic, reusing whatever is possible and recycling more and more efficiently. According to the study ‘Knowing What It Makes: How Product Transformation Salience Increases Recycling’, published in the Journal of Marketing and carried out based on different experiences with real study subjects, the key to increasing recycling rates among the population is to “communicate better to consumers the process of transforming waste into recycled material, emphasizing the positive messages of everything that is improved by doing it and reducing any negative or punitive approach “.

Other news of interest: More aware, more proactive and more involved: why Europeans recycle more after the pandemic