On January 1, 2023, Royal Decree 1055/2022, of December 27, 2022, on packaging and packaging waste, came into force, establishing new rules for the industry and distribution in terms of recycling. José Manuel Núñez-Lagos, CEO of Ecovidrio, one of the key players in this field, analyzes the situation a year later.

After a year of the new packaging and waste regulations in force, how has your work been affected?

“From our perspective, the royal decree has come not only to endorse but to strengthen Ecovidrio’s strategy, which is fundamentally based on the promotion of separate collection, that of the container, the most effective and efficient. It also guarantees the highest quality of the collection, which is where we put a lot of emphasis, to the point of having only 2% improper. In the case of glass, the awareness plans we have carried out over the last 25 years have served to guarantee quality collection and recycling. In addition, the decree establishes complementary collections at urban waste plants, as long as it is efficient, which is exactly what we are doing”.

The industry speaks of a regulatory ‘tsunami’ and calls for flexibility in the application of regulations. Will they hear it in Brussels?

“The European packaging regulation is currently still under discussion and we do not know how it will end. The industry is indeed calling for it, but no one is questioning its commitment to advancing circularity, but is calling for more realistic deadlines. Let us hope so”.

Where does our country stand in terms of recycling levels?

“In Spain, the habit of glass recycling is well established and with very good results. In 2023 we managed to reach a recycling rate of 70%, which is the target set by the royal decree and the European directive for 2025. We did it two years earlier. We consider ourselves a benchmark in the management of glass packaging waste in Europe thanks to our specialization for 25 years. We carry out direct collection, i.e., we work in the field and carry out real waste management. Secondly, because of our intensive plans in hospitality, something that no one else does. And, thirdly, because we are leaders in data analytics and the use of artificial intelligence tools, precisely because we do direct collection and have all the geolocated containers to provide us with the metrics”.  

Is this awareness similar in all areas?

No. Generally speaking, there are better recycling rates in the north of Spain than in the south. There are some important differences and it’s one of the areas we want to put more emphasis on in the future. We see it as an opportunity. If we have been able to achieve rates above 80%, for example, in the Basque Country, if we make a significant effort in the coming years in Andalusia we will match the percentages. Our models are supported by the results of other autonomous communities”.

This is a major challenge, especially in tourist areas with high consumption in the hospitality industry…

You can read the full interview here: