Selective collection of municipal waste, a pending issue in Galicia

An analysis of waste separation data at source in the Galician community concludes only 15.3% of waste was collected selectively in 2021.

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Press Release:

The separation of local waste (from households, restaurants, stores...) continues to be a pending issue in Galicia. This conclusion is drawn from a panel prepared by the Galician technology company TEIMAS, specialising in digitalisation of waste management, based on data requested from the Department of Environment of the Xunta de Galicia. And it is enough to review the latest available data, from 2021, where only 15.3% of the waste was collected selectively.

However, the Galician situation is not unique. According to the latest report of the Ministry for Ecological Transition on waste, of the 20.7 million tons collected by Spanish municipalities, 79% correspond to the fraction of mixed waste, compared to only 21% collected selectively (paper-cardboard, light packaging and glass).  

Separation at source of municipal waste, a measure of the new Waste Law

Law 7/2022 on Waste and Contaminated Land for a Circular Economy, in force since July 2022, establishes specific targets for reuse and recycling that include measures such as separation at source of municipal waste. These changes will facilitate, as the Law itself indicates, "the increase in the rates of preparation for reuse and recycling and will result in the achievement of substantial environmental, economic and social benefits and the acceleration of the transition to a circular economy".

However, official data show that in Galicia, the separation at source of urban waste, necessary to facilitate high quality recycling, remains low. In this sense, as Cristina Vázquez, TEIMAS partner specialized in traceability and waste transfer, says, "it is necessary that the administrations take measures, in a coordinated manner, to strengthen the separate collection and achieve a higher quality recycling".

In Galicia, around 1.1 million domestic wastes are managed annually.

In the Galician area there are 3 models of domestic waste management, each of them carried out by 3 management entities (Sogama, Nostián and Barbanza). Overall, as shown in the panel prepared by TEIMAS, the amount of municipal waste in these plants has been more or less constant, remaining at around a total of 1.1 million tons per year. And all this despite the 1.32% decrease in the Galician population during this period.

By provinces, A Coruña recorded the highest volume of waste, including in relation to separated waste in the period 2017-2021, followed by Pontevedra, Lugo and Ourense.

By councils, in the ranking of those with the highest waste collection per inhabitant in the same period, Rábade (684 tn), Sanxenxo (681 tn), San Cibrao das Viñas (568 tn), and Curtis (548 tn) stand out. However, they do not correspond with the ranking of municipalities by selective waste collection, where Brión, Ames (both close to 45%), Porto do Son (close to 37%) and Pontecesures (36%) stand out.

Overall, these figures reflect a slight increase in selective collection in Galicia from 13.5% in 2017 to 15.3% in 2021, which shows that there is still a long way to go from the administrations and in raising awareness in society.

Digitalisation, key to progress in the circular economy

The Waste Law is a challenge for the Administrations and professionals involved in the waste value chain (Public Administration, producing companies, plant operators, recyclers,...).

In the process of harmonization and improvement of traceability, the use of digitalisation technologies, capable of improving decision-making and the connection with a society that is increasingly concerned about the environment, is decisive.

"To optimize waste management, it is necessary to have correct and complete data to achieve real changes. In this sense, digitalisation brings robustness to circular economy strategies. Moreover, in this process it is necessary to implement security and management policies that guarantee the integrity and immutability of data, something that technologies such as blockchain enable and that we are already applying in our digital platforms. This dashboard, developed using Zero software, demonstrates the capacity of technology to make data visible and unify data, also in waste management," explains Vázquez.


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