Plastic at a recycling plant in Madrid. / óscar chamorro

World Recycling Day, 17 May, a day of celebration and commitment

In Spain, although there is still a long way to go, more people are recycling nowadays

NIEVES REYES / DEBBIE BARTLETT Madrid

May 17th is World Recycling Day, a day which was designed to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the planet and encourage people to do a very simple thing which can make a huge difference: separate and recycle their rubbish.

In Spain, although there is still a long way to go, more people are recycling nowadays. In fact, even in difficult situations such as the Covid pandemic, which has changed the way we live in so many ways, far from being affected, recycling has increased. Not only that, but it is now the most widely-used environmental tool among citizens.

Figures show that four out of every five people in Spain say they separate their rubbish for recycling (82.9% of those who took part in a survey, compared with 72.5% in 2015). Last year, this resulted in more than 1.5 million tonnes of packaging being given new life through recycling.

Spain began recycling in earnest several years ago, and the way this habit has spread is something of which we should be proud, say campaigners. It says a lot about people’s sensitivity regarding the dangers to the environment and their commitment to work together to build a better society. It is a clear reflection of a sentiment and an innate vocation to preserve the environment and our surroundings, with more people doing it more often, better and with more conviction, no matter where they are.

Recycling of packaging

World Recycling Day is also a date when Ecoembes, the environmental organisation that coordinates recycling of packaging, says we should pat ourselves on the back for how well we have done, and be grateful for the growing commitment to the environment among society as a whole.

So, let’s congratulate everyone who believes in and puts into practice small actions such as recycling to make our planet a better place.

Environmental awareness began with a small army of non-conformist people who made a fuss about things like holes in the ozone layer exacerbated by the use of aerosol sprays, and were laughed at for wanting paper to be recycled. Now, the army of those who understand the dangers and want to do more and better things to protect our natural environment is growing fast.

But we should not limit our efforts to one day of the year. So let's celebrate this day, indeed, but let us also make every day a World Recyling Day. It’s no more than the planet deserves.