The generation of waste is a significant cause of climate change as well as air, land and water pollution.
In the Balearic Islands, waste has grown by 21.5% since 2010, making it the highest waste generating region in the whole of Spain with 573 kg per person per year.
In 2018, an average of 2,376 tonnes of municipal waste was collected every day, and a total of 867,234 tonnes of waste was mostly incinerated or deposited in landfills.
This does not include ilegal dumping in the environment or waste that filters through the sewage system, which contaminates the sea and marine creatures. Today, one out of every six fish caught in Balearic waters contains microplastics in their stomachs.
The United Nations warns that if there is no radical change to our current consumption model, in 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the sea.
The new Balearic Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils approved by the Balearic Government in 2019 makes an ambitious attempt to these problems.
It contains pioneering measures to increase composting and reuse, as well as restrictions on single-use plastics. These measures should help minimise the impact of waste on the environment and promote a circular economy in the Balearic Islands.
Last Saturday 20 March, and after a long delay due to COVID and legal barriers, the gradual phase out the use of single-use plastics came into force.
The new law sets a benchmark on waste prevention at European and international level. From now on single-use plastics such as straws, plates and cutlery are prohibited in bars, restaurants and hotels, and disposable shaving machines cannot be sold.
Single-use coffee or tea capsules must be made of compostable material, and single use plastic bottles will be banned.
The regional Ministry of Environment of the Balearic government (Conselleria de Medi Ambient) has published online guides (residus.caib.es) which are a very useful resource not only for affected sectors such as catering and hospitality, traders, importers and distributors and town councils, but also to all citiziens who can play a key role in ensuring the law is effectively implemented.
Rezero is a non-profit organisation working for a zero waste society, and collaborating closely with public, private and third sector organisations to implement innovative solutions that reduce and prevent waste.
Thanks to support from the Marilles Foundation and others, Rezero, together with others, has been working for years to ensure an ambitious Balearic Waste Law.
From now on we will closely follow its deployment to ensure maximum implementation of the prevention and reuse measures envisaged. Marilles has renewed its support to Rezero for the next two years to continue with this essential work.
Over the next years we will work to demonstrate the viability of a production and consumption model based on waste prevention and reuse, and will forge alliances at political, economic and social levels to make this possible.
The Balearics are on the road to Zero Waste and have set a benchmark at European level. The economic recovery strategies must point in the same direction.