This month we (Sarah and Steph) had the sincere pleasure of attending a meeting at Urbaser, the recycling and sorting plant located between Casares Costa and Casares pueblo. We have been extremely excited to see things first hand and learn more about the exact processes that take place to sort and manage both our household waste and the contents of the various recycling bins from Manilva and surrounding areas. We're looking forward to bringing that information to you, and dispelling a few myths along the way.
We met with Dean Tyler Shelton and his team from the environment department of the Manilva ayuntamiento, as well as representative Oscar Naranjo, Service Plant Manager Juan Carrasco and Collection Service Manager Ignacio Fernandez of Urbaser.
Topics discussed included the current processes for sorting waste and how recent improvements in machinery have resulted in more and more waste being sorted and recycled every year. Of particular interest was Urbaser's broader goal of 'zero dumping' which aims to reduce rejections so that more waste is recycled and ultimately less and less ends up in landfill, ever reducing the environmental impact.
Also discussed was the promotion of recycling at source and how we can encourage each home to do more, whether it be residents, holidaymakers, property owners or occasional visitors - everyone can be reminded to do more recycling. It actually costs the council less for people to use the recycling bins than just using the normal refuse bins due to the 'Ecoembes' system which works to increase the recycling of packaging in Spain via the yellow and blue containers. A similar system applies to the collection and recycling of glass in Spain, Ecovidrio. Both systems have helped Spain reach far beyond the required EU levels of recycling for both plastics and glass - with 76% of plastic waste now being recycled and 79% of Spanish households always recycling glass.
We were reminded that the Urbaser plant processes waste from 516,600 inhabitants which means the treatment of 350,000 tons of waste a year from the mancommunidad of the western Costa del Sol, which comprises 11 municipalities from Torremolinos to Manilva. In Manilva alone there are 108 yellow recycling containers (plastics, tins and cartons) and 89 blue recycling containers (paper and card) - meaning that most inhabitants are never more than a 3-4 minute drive at most from being able to easily recycle the majority of household waste.
After the meeting we had the opportunity to visit the various processing areas of the plant ranging from the recyclable materials that are extracted from normal household waste, as well as the specifc processing areas for plastics, tins, cartons, paper and glass.
Visiting the site first hand brings several things into light, but first and foremost the work that is carried out at the plant and their 170 employees is immense and really very awe-inspiring. Secondly, it is a stark reminder that there is a lot of work still to be done to drastically reduce our waste and recyle much more.
We have a lot more information, stats and advice to provide since our visit to the plant, so look out for our further blog posts and articles to follow. We welcome your comments, questions and feedback.