The Son Reus incinerator plant. | Michel's

The plan to shut down two waste incinerators at the Son Reus plant has had to be put on hold. The Council of Majorca, which has responsibility for waste management, is postponing the shutdown because the volume of waste being handled by these two incinerators is still well in excess of the target figure.

Tirme, which is the company in charge of incineration and most recycling (building materials and rubble are handled by a different company), burned 536,000 tonnes in these two incinerators last year. The plan had been for them to be closed down once there were under 40,000 tonnes per month for a 36-month period. The volume was below this figure on only four occasions last year. The target is for there to be no more than 430,000 tonnes per annum. As it was, the volume was just over 100,000 tonnes in excess of this target.

The amount of waste that continues to be incinerated is no fault of Tirme. The problem lies with a persistently low level of recycling. Despite ongoing campaigns and increased facilities for waste separation, the total level of recycling in 2019 was only 17.6%. This was an improvement over the 16% in 2018, but it is way behind the 50% target that the European Union has set by the end of this year.

The greatest deficiency when it comes to recycling is for organic waste. There were only 30,000 tonnes of this last year. While small municipalities have been successful in organising recycling of this type of waste, Palma and several larger municipalities have not been. The lack of the appropriate containers or of efficient means of recycling result in organic waste ending up in the containers for general waste.

In overall terms, there was a mere 2.3% decrease in the amount of waste that had to be incinerated last year. Other categories of waste for recycling have better levels relative to their bulk, but even with these the increases haven't been remarkable. For paper and cardboard, for example, 28,582 tonnes were recycled in 2009; in 2019 the figure was 33,398 tonnes.