Thursday, September 23

Waste collection and recycling: from big cities to emptied Spain

Correctly disposing of waste in the yellow container is the first step in a recycling chain that, generally, begins in homes and continues in a collection process until raw material is obtained for the manufacture of new products. A cycle with a single and common objective but that can vary according to the population.

For example, the collection of plastic containers, cans and cartons in large locations, the logistics are more complex and require a higher collection frequency. This is what happens in Getafe, one of the largest cities in the Community of Madrid, with 185 thousand inhabitants, which has more than 525 containers of 3,000 liters capacity, it carries out a daily collection, organized into three routes that are divided into two night shifts and one morning shift.

“Our greatest concern is that a neighbor reaches the container and has no capacity,” acknowledges Cesar Rico, production director of Lyma, the Municipal Cleaning Company of Getafe. For this reason, he says, they redouble all efforts to facilitate this social gear that is to recycle plastic packaging waste. “For some time now there is more and more involvement. The collection of containers today is almost double than in 2016, but there is still a long way to go ”.

That citizen commitment that Rico mentions is essential in the process. Rosa Fresno, lives in Madrid and has always been aware of the transformative role that society can adopt when recycling and separating waste from the garbage they generate. “As I have five children, each one was assigned a responsibility: one was in charge of separating and disposing of batteries, another with used oil, another with paper, another with glass and another with plastic. It was an activity that they took on with great conscience, since they were little I tried to instill this commitment in them. But separating the plastic containers from the garbage was the first thing we did, ”this mother with a large family recalls proudly, who is now a grandmother.

Doing this correct separation of waste is a simple action that does not cost almost effort but that can bring many benefits and that allows to give a new life to waste, reduces the consumption of natural resources, contributes to reduce pollution and helps to alleviate the current climate crisis.

As Rico himself sums up, “apart from trying to get more recycled, we try to impact the environment as little as possible. And all waste that is collected, recycled and goes to the packaging selection plant ”. After disposing of the waste, the recycling chain continues with the collection and transport of the waste to the light packaging sorting plant. After this classification according to the material, the recycling companies take over and new raw material is generated for the manufacture of different products.

Increased frequency and collection points to encourage recycling

The yellow container is the symbol of the recycling of domestic packaging that we generate. Such as milk or juice cartons, soft drink cans, yogurt, cleaning products, plastic wrap, aluminum cans or trays, plastic bags, cling film or white cork trays. And, although they are part of the daily life of towns and cities in Spain, in some places their implementation is not so distant in time.

In the Commonwealth of Bajo Tiétar in Ávila, a region made up of 11 towns with a total of 16,357 inhabitants, the collection of containers was implemented in 2010. “It started with 2.17% of containers, in 2016 it rose to 3, 58% and today it is 6.35% ”, explains Susana Hernández, head of the Bajo Tiétar Mancomunidad Waste Service. Figures that serve as an x-ray of citizen involvement when it comes to separating and recycling containers and plastics. Furthermore, Hernández explains that this increase is due to the fact that “collection points have been reinforced, the frequency of collection has increased at more stops; which allows the containers to be clean and people, when throwing away their garbage, are more predisposed to separate their waste than if they find it overloaded ”.

To achieve this, the Waste Collection Service establishes a route from Monday to Saturday that is divided into three zones, passing through one of them every day. That is, they pass twice a week for each point. Although, as this professional also points out, during the summer months these towns of the Spain emptied They double their population, which is why the collection service is reinforced three days a week.

In summer the population and cleaning services increase

Something similar happens in Pollença, an idyllic spot in Mallorca, bathed by the Mediterranean. Being a holiday resort, during the summer months the population increases from 17,900 inhabitants to 54,000, therefore, the daily dynamics change and the routes and garbage collection services are reinforced. In addition, Pollença has a peculiarity, and that is that ‘door to door’ is practiced. In other words, the neighbors leave the plastic container garbage bags in their portals twice a week and are collected by the cleaning staff.

“It is a small town and this system is very convenient for the neighbors. Furthermore, in this way the quality of the waste is very good, you can see that people take more into account that everything goes to its place ”, explains Temeu Servera, from the Public Company of Pollença. So much so that, according to this worker, the waste collection system is expected to be “100% door to door” by 2022. A format that is now applied in the town and in hotel and restaurant areas, while in rural areas and in the port, containers are installed that are emptied two days a week.

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