A XXI century waste management

After largely meeting today’s requirements, Biscay looks at European objectives for 2030 and sets the goals of increasing recycling rates of glass, paper and cardboard, and improving selective collection of electric and electronic devices.

A review of the II Comprehensive Integrated Urban Waste Management Plan of Biscay (2005-2016), carried out by the Regional Government, has revealed that the objectives set for the territory are largely met, but it has also detected areas where improvement is needed.

Thus, the recycling rate of the glass fraction in the territory is around 59%, one percentage point lower than required by the Spanish law. Paper and cardboard, on the other hand, have a recycling rate of 54%, when it should be 60%. Moreover, Biscay is slightly behind the requirements of the Spanish laws in the field of selective collection of electric and electronic devices: in 2016 it reached 3.36 kilograms per inhabitant and year, far away from the stipulated 4,6 kilograms.

Another challenge that the territory will have to work on is dropping to zero untreated waste disposal. The use of landfill disposal has progressively decreased from 53,8% of generated waste, in 2014, to 19,1% last year; but it is still far away from the objective zero that has been set.

The reduction of waste and the raise of reusing and recycling rates is precisely the line of work of Zamudio in the context of its participation in the European Waste4Think project. This work is exploring the potential lying within new technologies to increase efficiency in urban waste management, and it is working on developing methodologies and solutions aimed to engage citizens in the reduction of waste and in the improvement of reutilization and recycling rates.

The frame of this work is the circular economy paradigm, a change in the way of approaching waste that views it as a source of raw materials that still have not reached the end of their life cycle and that highlights the need to retrieve them.

The involvement of citizens will be vital, but infrastructures to make it possible will also be needed. In this sense, the Regional Government of Biscay emphasises that it has already fulfilled the deployment of «the essential and operating urban waste management infrastructures» that will respond to the needs of the territory.