Manufacturers in Spain to pay for the recycling of packaging materials

by Deborah Cater
Recycling of packaging costs to be picked up by manufacturers

The Spanish Council of Ministers has amended the law on waste management. It will ensure waste in Spain is reduced by 15% by 2030, compared to 2010. Municipalities must recycle more plastic than now and manufacturers pay for recycling of packaging.

By 2020, half the packaging materials must be recycled. This applies to all EU member states. Spain is nowhere near that target (in 2019 this was 34.7%). In order to reduce the waste mountain, Minister Teresa Ribera of Ecological Transition wants to make the polluter pay. This means the bill for processing and recycling packaging materials is entirely with the manufacturers who market them.

Polluter pays

The current waste management law of 1997 stipulates manufacturers only have to bear the extra costs of recycling their packaging versus the traditional waste treatment paid by the municipalities. With effect from the new law, the costs will be fully borne by the manufacturers. In other words, the costs for the containers for separate collection and the subsequent transport and processing of the waste.

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Municipalities provide complete waste processing and recycling

Manufacturers can recover the costs for recycling from the consumer by introducing or increasing an eco-tax. This they can then use to pay the municipalities. The municipalities recycle the waste and ensure the materials eventually reach the manufacturers again.

Conservation organisations such as Ecologistas en Acción and Amigos de Tierra also think it is high time manufacturers pay for other elements of waste management. In particular, they highlight the cleaning up and processing of plastic and other waste that remains on the beach and on the street. This is also included in the new bill of the Spanish government.

No more new disposable plastic products and free plastic bags

Other points the new law provides for include: a tax increase on all disposable plastics, mandatory separation of organic waste, textiles and hazardous household waste, 55% waste recycling in the year 2025; 60% in 2030 and 65% in 2035, a ban on the introduction of new plastic disposable products such as straws, cotton buds, plastic cutlery and plates, a ban on free plastic bags in supermarkets and shops from January 1, 2023, halving the food waste of households and catering and the obligation for bars and restaurants to serve guests free tap water.

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