In 2005, UNESCO established Global Recycling Day with a clear objective: to reduce the volume of waste we generate and minimise our carbon footprint.
Sixteen years later, the challenge is still valid and all organisations, from the European Union to local councils, are joining forces to raise awareness, promote and improve recycling capacity in all the processes involved in the creation of a product, from the extraction of the raw material to the time we consume it and dispose of it. In this sense, public awareness has improved over the years and the figures are encouraging, but insufficient.
Europe is asking all its member states to reach 60% of recycled waste by 2030 and, while the Spanish average is around 33%, Catalonia stands out, reaching 44.8% in 2019, its maximum figure in terms of recycling. An action as simple as putting waste in the right bin is at the same time very powerful. To give you an idea, this 44.8% means that the emission of 564,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases has been avoided.
The implementation of the door-to-door (PaP) collection system has a lot to do with this achievement. This is a municipal management model that has been implemented in more than 200 municipalities in Catalonia and consists of collecting waste at your doorstep, on certain days and at certain times. Planning and easiness for efficient and much more participatory recycling where figures of between 60 and 80% are achieved. While it is true that this model is particularly successful in less densely populated municipalities, the challenge for the coming years will be to find recycling models adapted to large cities.
The key, in this environmental struggle where our future is at stake, is the reduction of the carbon footprint, rather than the repair of future damage. And this is where each of us comes in. To achieve this, it is essential to know all the factors: why do we have to recycle? What are the implications of not doing it? Is an ecologically sustainable economy possible? What can I do?