The Son Reus waste plant. | Archive

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Under a plan developed by the Council of Majorca when the Partido Popular was in charge between 2011 and 2015, two of the incinerators at the Son Reus waste-treatment plant were due to have been closed down last year. They were not. In fact, the amount of incinerated waste increased to just under 555,000 tonnes, twenty per cent more than four years before.

The closure of the incinerators would have meant a cut to the annual total capacity at Son Reus of 300,000 tonnes to roughly 430,000, a figure well below what was incinerated in 2017. The plan had been for much greater recycling, but the reality has been rather different. There has been an increase in the collection of waste for recycling, but there has also been greater demand for waste that has to be incinerated.

According to the Council of Majorca, the incinerator plant was operating at almost its monthly maximum capacity in July and August last year. The plant can handle up to 60,000 or so tonnes per month. In both July and August, it burned almost 57,000. In months when demand on the plant is less, the average is around 40,000 tonnes.

The pressure on the incinerators is, or so it would seem, another consequence of increased tourist numbers. In addition, all the redevelopment work that has been going on at hotels has generated its own waste. Not all of this goes to Son Reus. There is a separate plant operated by the public-sector company Mac Insular, which has the concession for dealing with building waste. This is essentially rubble. It is other building waste that ends up at Son Reus - over 63,000 tonnes of it last year.

Despite local authority efforts to encourage recycling, the amount of waste for recycling, although it has increased, still only accounts for some 15% of all waste in Majorca. Of this, just under five per cent is paper and cardboard. The rest is a mix of organic material, glass and containers (plastic in particular).