Are you committed to recycling? Do you usually leave your containers at the green point closest to your house? We are going to tell you about a new method, the beauty of which is based on its simplicity. Or that’s what they say. Judge for yourself and start getting used to the idea as some autonomous regions of Spain plan to implement it next year.
Imagine yourself one morning in your usual supermarket planning to stock your larder. You start to fill your trolley with basics such as bread, milk, sugar, oil, soft drinks, meat, fish, etc. When you arrive at the checkout to pay, you notice that some of the products you buy, which are packaged in materials such as glass, steel or PET plastic among others have increased in price by ten cents each. Faced with this general increase, a little surprised you ask the cashier the reason for this increase. The employee, with their best smile, explains that it is only a loan and that if you return the empty container to the store they will refund you the ten cents. “These are the new rules” they conclude.
You who have always been diligent and one to pay attention, fill your fridge-larder with these products and continue with your normal routine. After a couple of weeks, the container that you have at home to put recyclable containers in is already completely full and you remember that cashier who told you that you would have to return the containers to the shop where you bought them if you wanted your ten cents returned. You go back to the supermarket with your bag and find that inside there is a machine that occupies the space where before there were some of the products that you buy, there is a queue and what’s more the floor is dirty. “Good day, there is where you have to put the containers. Get in the queue and don’t forget that the machine’s reader has to scan the label of each container, if they are in bad condition they will be rejected and it will not issue the ticket you need to get your money back. Also, not all the containers that you have brought are valid for this new recycling system”, a supermarket employee tells you.
The label? But most of the containers have lost their label! While she eats, my daughter pulls of the paper from her bottle of soft drink! The greasiness of the oil has made the adhesive label come off! To make more containers fit in my rubbish bin I had to squash them! I thought that the tuna tin and toothpaste tube could also be recycled here! And, and, and… You finally go home with 20 cents, two bottles recycled and a bag full of containers that you have not been able to deposit in the new machine and that you will end up throwing away in the usual green point close your home.
All this for you to respect. What the supermarket cashier didn’t tell you is that installing this machine has cost the company an average of 20,000 Euros per machine. Neither did they tell you that it is not mandatory to return the container to the store where you bought the product and just a moment before you, a gentleman came with a bag full of bottles asking for his refund money. Neither did they tell you that the number of trips made by the lorries to your local supermarket to collect the containers has doubled. Or that the store in question has increased its water and energy consumption and has problems with the smell generated by the products deposited in the machine. Or that the store has seen a decrease in sales, since the machine occupies sales space. And of course, neither did they tell you that this is the new system that some autonomous regions such as Valencia, Catalonia or the Balearic Islands want to make every shop, big or small, have installed by law and that it is called SDDR Deposit, Refund and Return System. And then the question arises….Who gains from this?
Currently, recycling systems exist in all Spain, which are collectively known as the Integrated Waste Management System (SIG) and in the case of containers, plastic, paper and cardboard materials, these are managed by Ecoembes, a non-profit organisation involved with everything related to the management of these products and awareness campaigns. The financing of this company and the viability of the system as well as the recycling plants is the responsibility of the consumer sector companies themselves: manufacturers, packagers, retailers, distribution, etc., which according to Law 22/2011 on Waste and Contaminated Ground, are obliged to manage all waste generated by the products that they market.
The initiative that regions such as the Balearic Islands, Catalonia or Valencia want to implement is a system that coexists with the current SIG and which requires multi-million Euro investments, losses for the establishments and problems for the conscientious consumer. Those in defence of this system argue for its implementation pointing to other countries such as Germany, Finland or Denmark, which use this system. However, if we look further than our own interests, the situation is very different. The United Kingdom, France or Italy among other countries have studied the implementation of this system and have rejected it as being non-viable and not very efficient. Furthermore, other countries such as Holland have even approved its dismantling after being implemented.
However, if a recycling system already exists throughout Spain that is effective, why not improve it even further? Who benefits from the new SDDR system that only applies to 9% of all materials that can be recycled? Who is responsible for the manufacture of more than 90,000 machines that are planned for implementation? Where does this benefit go to? It wouldn’t appear to be the environment.
Many questions are still to be answered. It is necessary to give the answer a lot of thought, and above all, do not forget the question of who gains?