Written by Óscar Martín, CEO of ECOEMBES
When we try to diagnose our realities and set goals to advance, inevitably we have to do a comparative exercise on our immediate environment and how it affects our shared vision. In Ecoembes we manage together with our administrations the selective collection and recovery of light packaging (plastics, cans and cartons) and cartons and paper in Spain to facilitate future recycling. After 17 years in business, we have become a respected and recognizable organization for all stakeholders, from citizens to businesses and governments.
In our case, the environment that defines our playing field and that determines our objectives is twofold: the business world (more than 12,000 member companies which represent about 90% of the domestic packaging that is placed in the Spanish market) and our membership to Europe, because as part of the EU we are required to comply with the roadmap that is marked on recycling this type of waste.
The first element is none other than an example of the dynamism and environmental commitment of the Spanish business. The companies adhered to our organization that put household packaging on the market are obliged to be responsible for the recovery of such containers to facilitate their future recycling, an activity that coordinates Ecoembes. But beyond the legal obligations, the companies and ECOEMBES assume this task with greater farsightedness, because the preservation of the environment can not end where law ends, it has to get as far as impacts reach that we cause on the environment due to our economic activity. The work we do in ECOEMBES is possible as long as these Spanish companies are fully aware of their environmental responsibility.
That in Spain we take very seriously our waste management is demonstrated by the fact that we already recycle seven out of ten household packaging wastes that are put on the market, which means that we are 17 points above the percentages required by the European Union. Our country is, for this and other reasons, one of the EU states located at the head of compliance with EU targets for moving towards a circular economy. Since Ecoembes started its business in 1998, we have made it possible to recycle 14 million tons of household packaging. With all of them, we could fill no less than 1,050 football fields.
The commitment of a country towards recycling speaks volumes about its development as an advanced society. In our case, we contribute to it by generating a collaborative process ecology which are involved business, governments and, of course, citizens. Thanks to this common effort we can say that Spain is already a reference in certain processes of sustainable growth whilst respecting the environment, including management systems for the recycling of household packaging waste.
This model of circular economy that we promote at Ecoembes also gives us many benefits in the economic field, creating thousands of green jobs (about 42,600 jobs), and social, not forgetting the environmental factors that result in the reduction of the use of new raw materials, in energy and water consumption , as well as in the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases. The management of packaging waste is undoubtedly a sector where innovation and eco-efficiency is giving great results reducing the environmental footprint of packaging, but it is also an example on how Spanish companies take on the challenge of a more coherent future with the boundaries that mark us the global ecosystems. Since 1998, the recycling of household packaging wastes in our country has avoided the emission of 13.8 million tons of greenhouse gases and the consumption of 15.8 million MWh and 375 million cubic meters of water.
These are just some of the figures that support our work and that confirm our environmental commitment. Not surprisingly, Spain is the European country with more biodiversity, which means that we have a responsibility to ensure a natural capital, which in reality does not belong to us, because it is of all mankind.
Beyond the figures, ECOEMBES we develop numerous projects that connect us to social realities. Examples of this are, among many, “Music of recycling” (we work with Young People and risk of social exclusion through music and instrument making from waste), the training program for internal waste management in prisons, “the teachers tell” (a competition for schools where teachers and students present their stories ) or “Prizes R”, that reward institutions and professionals who have outstood for their work in the fields of environmental outreach, research or social work, among others.
The second element that defines the activity of Ecoembes is our European environment. The EU has been already marking for years the roadmap towards a recycling society, where the landfill disappears and waste is reused in its entirety. In the context of the Seventh Framework Programme for the Environment, which came into force in January 2014 establishing guidelines for environmental action of the European Union until 2020, the EU has already defined how it imagines the European economy by 2050. Maintaining the natural capital and the health of individuals and to promote a circular and green economy based on innovation and efficiency are some of the key pillars of this roadmap. Undoubtedly, Ecoembes and its member companies fully align with these goals and sence a necessary partner to move towards this new economic and social model.
Therefore, at Ecoembes we believe and support initiatives as Sustainable Brands, whose next edition will be held this month of April in Barcelona, because innovative companies that are committed to the society in which they operate will form the basis of the new economic model that is already starting to build up in Europe.