The COVID-19 pandemic has penalized many sectors. Among them, the one dedicated to the recycling of waste, since its production and results have been affected by the health crisis. So much so that the trajectory of sustained growth in the volume of recycled waste decreased by 8% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In this way, last year 18.5 million tons of waste were recycled in Spanish plants, according to a report by the DBK Sectoral Observatory.

Metal waste accounts for the largest volume of recycled waste, accounting for 61% of the total, followed by the paper and cardboard segment, which accounts for 22%. The rest corresponds to the recycling of wood, 8%, glass, 5% and plastic, 4%.

In 2020, there was a significant decrease in exports and imports of waste

In this sense, there was a significant decrease in both exports and imports of waste in 2020. In the first case, there was a drop of 4.7% in terms of volume, placing foreign sales at around 1,6 million tons. On the other hand, purchases fell 11.9%, totaling 5.3 million tons.

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Despite this, the forecasts point to a boost in the activity of recycling companies during 2021, especially in spite of the second half of the year, together with the gradual growth of economic activity and the increase resulting from the waste generated. In the sector approximately 350 companies dedicated to waste recycling are identified, which manage about 400 plants, most of which are small.

Each Spaniard generated an average of 476 kg of waste

225 million tons. That is the amount of municipal waste that was generated in the European Union (EU) in 2019. This corresponds to 502 kg per person, which is an increase compared to 2018, when it stood at 495 kg. It should be noted that the highest peak was recorded in 2008, when the figure was 518 kg, according to Eurostat data.

Spain ranks 16th in terms of waste generation in the EU member states. Specifically, each Spaniard generated an average of 476 kg of waste. The ranking is led by Denmark, with 844 kg per person, Luxembourg being the second country with the highest volume, with 791 kg and Malta the third, with 694 kg.

At the other end of the scale is Romania, which generated 280 kg of municipal waste per person in 2019, followed by Poland, with 336 kg and Estonia, with 369 kg.

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