Who recycles and who doesn't in Catalonia: selective collection remains stagnant

The metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona, ​​with 38%, is one of the areas that separates the least waste

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Recycling plant for containers and plastics in Viladecans.

BarcelonaIn 2022, Catalans will generate 3.8 million tons of waste. But, of all that mountain, only 1.7 million tons were selectively collected. Thus, garbage separated at source, in homes or businesses, stands at 45%. It is a slightly better figure than the data from the previous year (0.3% more waste was separated) but, nevertheless, it is well below the European objectives, which were set to reach 50% of separated waste in 2020 and reach 55% by 2025.

Thus, Catalonia is already three years behind. The director of the Waste Agency of Catalonia (ARC), Isaac Peraire, has admitted that there is still "a lot of homework to do", but has advanced that he is in favor of promoting selective collection, giving incentives to municipalities that do so and not imposing sanctions on those who fail to comply. In fact, right now the Government does not have sanctioning capacity and It is also not clear that with the new waste law he can do it. However, the director of the ARC explained that he is not aware of any European sanction to the State, but acknowledged that it would not seem bad to him, because this would force Spain "to get its act together".

Among all the municipalities, where there is more work to be done is in the big cities, which fail resoundingly. The 23 Catalan municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants have a rate of 37.9%. In addition, the figure is stagnant and has only improved by 3.5 points in the last five years. On the other side of the scale are the smaller municipalities: the selective collection rate for all 924 municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants stands at 47.5%, above the Catalan average. "The time has come for municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to implement high-efficiency models," warned Peraire.

Ranking of counties

By counties and areas, the Barcelona metropolitan area is both the area that generates the most waste (due to the volume of population it concentrates) and one of the five that separates waste the worst. Only 38% of the garbage (the same figure as the previous year) arrives separately in the containers. The other regions at the bottom of the ranking are La Cerdanya (27%), Vall d'Aran (34%), Baix Penedès (37%) and Tarragonès (39%). On the contrary, Conca de Barberà is the region where residents and businesses make the greatest effort to separate waste: they have a selective collection rate of 77%. They follow you in this particular top 5 Osona (69%), Berguedà (67%), Solsonès (62%) and Terra Alta (61%). They all have running door-to-door collection system in municipalities or closed containers with user identification, two systems that have been proven to be the most useful when it comes to improving selective collection and subsequent recycling. On a local scale, the municipalities with the best score are Vilablareix, Albons, Corçà, Sant Quirze Safaja and Verges. They all also have in common the door-to-door system, which is already used in 300 Catalan municipalities.

If you look at materials, there are more than 2 million tons of garbage that, directly, were not separated last year (54%). In addition, 30% of municipal waste also went to landfills in a mixed way (the European objective places the limit at 10%). Among the most common separate collection fractions, the one that has improved the most is that of containers, which rises by 7% compared to the previous year. Glass separation also improves by 5.3% and organic separation by 1.4%. On the contrary, the separation of paper waste is down and falls by 4.5%.

To door-to-door and containers with identification

In general figures, in 2022 1.2% less waste was produced than in 2021: each Catalan generated 493 kilos of garbage per head throughout the year (1.5% less on average). Despite this slight containment, for the director of the ARC "current selective collection systems have already reached their maximum and what is needed is to move towards efficient systems", referring to door-to-door and closed containers with user identification. "This will be one of the big bets of the new Catalan waste law that is being finalized."

And what about asbestos?

Regarding the National Asbestos Plan that the Government has in place, the director of the Catalan Waste Agency, Isaac Peraire, has said that they are working to expand the only hazardous waste deposit in Catalonia, which is located in Castellolí (Anoia). The landfill has a capacity to accommodate 300,000 cubic meters of asbestos, but Peraire has advanced that in Catalonia there could be 4 million: "We have identified that we lack space and we are in the process of solving it."