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Recycling data in Spain in 2022

On this occasion, we bring you a summary of the most relevant data on recycling in Spain. For this, we have based ourselves on the report published by the DBK Sector Observatory of INFORMA, corresponding to the activity of companies in the waste recycling sector in the period of 2022. Stay and find out what the results have been and if Spanish companies have passed.

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Recycling in 2022

Companies involved in the activity of the waste recycling sector in the period 2021-2022 benefited from an increase in the volume of waste generated. Meanwhile, the proportion of materials destined for recycling in line with recovery and reuse targets continued to increase.

During this financial year, the production of recycled waste in the almost 400 recycling plants in Spain increased by 2.3% on the previous year’s results. Metals, paper and cardboard accounted for 80% of the volume of waste generated. That is, 20.3 million tonnes. The business generated by their sale amounted to some 5.1 billion euros.

Metal waste accounted for more than 60% of the total volume recycled, followed by paper and cardboard, which accounted for just over twenty percent, the rest being wood, glass and plastics recycling.

In terms of volume, waste imports decreased significantly compared to the 2021 increase, but exports increased by 2.5%. In value terms, both imports and exports increased, driven by the continuation of the trend of strong price growth.

Around 340 waste recycling companies are identified in this sector, which operate around 400 plants. The business structure has a majority of small companies specialised in single material recycling, which coexist with a smaller group of large operators.

In the coming years, the activity of companies in the recycling and recovery sector is expected to be marked by the development of waste regulations and the tightening of recycling and recovery targets, which will result in an increase in the degree of waste treatment. On the other hand, the stagnation of private consumption will tend to contain the volume of waste generated and influence the improvement of revenues.

Number of companies340
Production (thousand tones)20.300
% change+2.3
Distribution of production by business segment (%), 2021
Metal 61
Paper and cardboard 22
Wood 8
Glass 5
Plastic 4
Export (thousand tones)2.150
Import (thousand tones)5.300
Production (million euros)5.100
Recycling data in Spain. Source: DBK Sector Observatory

The implementation of a circular economy in the recycling sector

We have come from a linear economic model in which the aim was to consume and discard at an alarming rate. This economic model, by depleting natural resources, is unsustainable in the medium term, as it increases pollution and waste on the planet.

Recycling is, without a doubt, the pillar on which a productive and economic system based on circularity must be built. Global figures indicate that administrations are beginning to be aware of the importance of reusing material resources. According to the latest UN report, 11,200 tonnes of solid waste are collected worldwide every year.

We already know first-hand the many benefits of the circular economy, which is why the Central Government has developed the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy (EEEC), aligned with the action plans of the UN and the European Union. This initiative, with a long-term vision, aims to lay the foundations for a new, more sustainable production model.

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