Spain, leader in plastic recycling in the EU


Spain is the EU country with the highest plastic recycling rates: 43% in all applications -8 points above the European average of 35%- and 52% in the specific case of packaging – 6 points above the European average, 46%-.

These data place the country in third and fourth place respectively in these rankings, leading “in the leadership of the sector’s transition towards plastics circularity” according to the latest report on the circular economy of plastics in 2020 prepared by the European association Plastics Europe.

Additionally, nearly 10% was post-consumer recycled plastic for use in the production of new products, which is higher than the European average of 8.5%. Another point to highlight in the report is that plastic waste collected through separate collection systems has 13 times higher recycling rates than those collected by mixed flows.


The document indicates that in 2020 “despite the extraordinary conditions due to the pandemic” the circularity of this material has continued to progress and more than a million tonnes of plastic waste have been sent to recycling plants. However, more than half of the waste collected still ended up in waste-to-energy plants (21%) or deposited in landfills (36%).

For this reason, the Spanish industry “This requires systemic change to further accelerate this transition and achieve higher levels of circularity and climate neutrality”, said Alicia Martín, General Manager of Plastics Europe in the Iberian Peninsula. The change should include “a legislative framework in Spain that promotes the single market, technological neutrality and encourages investment and innovation”added.

Either way, investments in new technologies continue to accelerate and European plastics processors plan to invest 7.2 billion by 2030 in chemical recycling in addition to mechanical recycling, which will make it possible to have an additional 3.4 million tonnes of recycled plastic in Europe by 2030.

The study on chemical recycling technologies in Spain, also prepared by Plastics Europe, shows that by 2025 waste treatment capacities could be multiplied by 40, reaching almost half a million tons and avoiding the incineration or landfill.

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