Current affairs

Our environmental awareness has rocketed and the proportion we recycle has jumped from 4.8% to 74.8%

The region that generates the most waste average waster is Andalusia, at 4,583.6 thousand tonnes per year, and the region that generates the least is La Rioja, at 81.4

Thursday, 16 de February, 2017

EAE Business School (www.eae.es) is pleased to present its report entitled New Approaches to Waste Management, a comprehensive analysis of the problem of waste management from a three-way perspective: its influence on climate change, new models of waste management, and its relationship to logistics or Green Logistics.

WASTE MANAGEMENT IN SPAIN

According to the report drafted by EAE Business School, the information available to date in the field of recycling is just emerging in Spain. However, a number of interesting facts have been detected in relation to crucial aspects such as the investment by industries in environmental protection and the level of environmental awareness of the general public.

The report reveals that the Autonomous Communities that generate the most waste are Andalusia and Catalonia, with totals of 4,583.6 thousand tonnes (m Ton) and 3,680.7 m Ton, respectively. In second place come the Community of Madrid and the Community of Valencia, with very similar totals (2,502.1 m Ton and 1,919.2 m Ton, respectively). The rest of the Communities generate less than 1.500 m Ton, with La Rioja being notable as the region that generates the least waste (81.4 m Ton).

In terms of the type of waste, the report observes that 60% is comprised by organic material (37%), commercial packaging (19%) and plastic and metal non-packaging waste (13%). All other kinds of waste (rubble, textiles, wood, etc.) are recorded at far lower levels. In terms of the danger posed by waste, there are three types of hazardous waste that account for 90% of the total: chemicals (47.30%; 233.6 m Ton), sanitary and biological waste (21.36%; 105.5 m Ton), and discarded appliances (21.28%; 105.1 m Ton). By sector, the report reveals that, in the service sector, the activities that generate most waster are retail trade, accounting for 23.82%, and the wholesale trade and trade intermediaries, accounting for 22.90%. It is worth highlighting that this volume has fallen by 25% between 2011 and 2013. In the construction sector, mineral waste accounts for practically all of the waste.

Public awareness

According to the report drafted by EAE Business School, the level of awareness of the Spanish population has increased enormously with respect to recycling household packaging. In 1998, the recycling rate was 4.8%, while, in 2015, it had rocketed to 74.8%. Using public transport, separating recyclable waste and reducing household energy consumption are aspects that have already become widely accepted throughout the Spanish population. However, there are other areas in which special efforts should be made, as they are not included within the country’s objectives, such as taken into consideration the environmental impacts of large purchases (e.g. travelling, building a house, etc.) and replacing cars with more efficient models. It is worth highlighting the high level of social awareness with respect to air and water pollution, and the low level in terms of our consumption habits and the extinction of species and destruction of their habitats.

For its part, Spanish industry invested 2.4 billion euros on environmental protection in 2014, primarily in the manufacturing industry (2.109 billion euros).

Spain did its homework in 2015 in relation to the recycling objectives set by the European Union. With respect to each of the four types of waste, Spain hit the targets with ease, with figures far above the levels required by Europe: plastics (63.8% compared to 22.5% required), paper and cardboard (82.9% compared to 60% required), metals (83% compared to 50% required) and wood (57.9% compared to 15% required).

NEW MODELS OF WASTE MANAGEMENT

In almost all parts of the world, the trend is now generalizing towards acknowledging that traditional recycling of products cannot continue indefinitely and that there is a need for transnational policies to be adopted that help societies to become more efficient with resources and techniques that are less harmful to the environment. In this respect, the adoption of the circular economy (CE) model, in which waste is considered to be a resource, has become a key element in sustainable development strategies, although certainly not the only one, through legislation/regulations in this area. CE is a generic term to refer to all activities that enable the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials in production, distribution and consumption processes. The ultimate objective of the CE model is the decoupling of economic growth and the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of the environment. As revealed by the report, this requires the commitment of the Administration and Governments, the creation of effective institutional agreements, innovation in this field, cooperation between sectors, the evolution from linear to circular models, the creation of longer lifecycles, the involvement of the various stakeholders and new business models.

In order to adapt the current Spanish model to the CE model, the report drafted by EAE Business School proposes a number of policies: 1) Striking a balance between the regulatory framework, the instruments of control, commercial incentives, price adaptation and policy harmonization; 2) Improving sector participation and the commitment of the different communities actively involved in the industrial sector, as well as local governments, the various groups and communities, associations, professional networks and NGOs; 3) Disseminating knowledge on the CE model, and equipping the people responsible for its implementation, using local and international examples of CE, but first and foremost creating and using indicators that enable progress to be measured; and lastly 4) Ensuring the harmonization of cross-sector CE initiatives that bring together the various sectors and ministries involved, enhancing the administrations programs in this respect.

Green Logistics

Last but not least, the report emphasis on Green Logistics, a sub-process integrated within reverse logistics that enables the environmental and socioeconomic dimensions of business activity to be incorporated and promoted. Key aspects of Green Logistics include extending environmental sustainability objective to suppliers that form part of the supply chain. the reuse of containers and recycling of packaging, redesigning end products and packaging to minimize the consumption of materials, and using materials designed to have a low environmental impact.

Solid urban waste management

The report reveals that solid urban waste management throughout the different countries of the European Union has a common driving force behind it: tax incentivization. At the same time, it identifies the need for new systemic approaches and technological solutions for the effective management of this type of waste.

General conclusions

“In the report, we refer to the circular economy and bring together qualitative evidence with respect to the efforts and policies (at both a supranational and national, regional and business level) in relation to a different and more modern model for understanding sustainability and waste management. The circular economy puts forward cyclical processes that take all of the stakeholders in an economy into account, and proposes alternatives to the traditional linear model, striving to eliminate the cause of the inefficiencies of global economic activity. This circular economy breaks the link between economic growth and the consumption of resources and waste production, using cradle-to-cradle processes, extended product lifecycles and the involvement of all the different stakeholders”, says Alberto Peralta, a researcher at EAE’s Strategic Research Center and co-author of the report.

“The solution for mitigating our impact on climate change (such as reducing emissions) will heavily involve the development of a more efficient system of waste management. However, a large part of the problem comes from the excessive production of waste in the first place”, explains Elena Búlmer, a researcher at EAE’s Strategic Research Center and co-author of the report.

“It should be highlighted that the marketing differentiators and companies that are searching for hybrid strategies tend to use more advanced Green Logistics strategies to manage the ‘environmental performance’ of their suppliers. Within this context, Green Logistics seems to provide a way of differentiating a company’s products and services, as well as minimizing the risk of potential losses as a result of inadequate ‘environmental performance by suppliers” adds Iván Zamarrón, a researcher at EAE’s Strategic Research Center and co-author of the report.

Overview of the report:

  • In Spain, there was a reduction of practically 100%, between 2013 and 2014, in terms of collecting and reusing glass waste.
  • Industrial investment in environmental protection in 2014 amounted to a total of nearly 2.4 billion euros.
  • There was a 70.2% increase in investment in environmental protection made by mining industries between 2013 and 2014 in Spain.
  • The Autonomous Communities that generated most waste in 2014 were Andalusia and Catalonia, with totals of 4,583.6 m Ton and 3.680.7 m Ton, respectively.
  • La Rioja is the region that generated the least waste (81.4 m Ton).
  • 60% of waste is comprised by organic materials (37%), commercial packaging (19%) and plastic and metal non-packaging waste (13%).
  • 90% of hazardous waste is accounted for by chemicals (47.30%; 233.6 m Ton), sanitary and biological waste (21.36%; 105.5 m Ton) and discarded appliances (21.28%; 105.1 m Ton)
  • The activities that generate the most waste are the retail trade, accounting for 23.82%, and the wholesale trade and trade intermediaries, accounting for 22.90%. It should be noted that this volume fell by 25% between 2011 and 2013.
  • With respect to all four types of waste, Spain exceeded the levels required by the European Union: plastics (63.8% compared to 22.5% required), paper and cardboard (82.9% compared to 60% required), metals (83% compared to 50% required) and wood (57.9% compared to 15% required).
  • The recycling of household rocketed from 4.8% in 1998 to 74.8% in 2015.
  • The adoption of the circular economy (CE) model, in which waste is considered to be a resource, has become a key element in sustainable development strategies.
  • The implementation of the CE model requires the commitment of the Administration and Governments, the creation of effective institutional agreements, innovation, cooperation between sectors, the evolution from linear to circular models, the creation of longer lifecycles, the involvement of the various stakeholders and new business models
  • Key features of Green Logistics include the reuse of containers, recycling of packaging, redesign of packaging and the end product to minimize the consumption of material and the use of materials designed to have a low environmental impact.
  • Solid urban waste management throughout the different countries of the European Union has a common driving force behind it: tax incentivization.

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