Spain to steer EU in grassroots view of recycling
MADRID - Spain will continue to work closely with people involved in recycling, rather than impose rules from above, once it assumes the European Union presidency in January next year, a government official said yesterday.
Carmen Martorell, secretary general of the Spanish ministry of Environment, said collaboration between the government, the private sector and the general public was vital to ensure the success of new legislation put forward by the European Union.
"We have entered a relatively new commercial area and an awareness that did not exist, so its not very helpful to dictate the rules without bearing in mind the daily practicalities of collecting and recycling," she told the Bureau of International Recycling world recycling conference in Madrid.
"We think that it is very important not to prepare legislation from above, but rather together with those who see that legislation put into practice," Martorell said.
The EU environmental directives provide a legal framework which defines waste materials and establishes surveillance of the flow of secondary materials such as packaging and end-of-life vehicles (ELV), to increase the percentage of materials recycled and reduce their hazardousness.
Martorell said the Spanish government had incentives to encourage those companies who are recycling or need to do so.
"We have to sell the fact that it is positive to collect and recycle, from making it easy for the man on the street to walk just 50 metres to dispose of old batteries in a recycling bin to offering help to companies, rather than let it be thought of as negative, a limitation," she said.
"At the ministry of the Environment we are working on an environmental education plan for the whole population."
Recycling and waste management will be a key concern on Spains agenda when it takes over the EU presidency, she said.
Spain has launched a number of environmental initiatives.
In the metals sector, the nuclear safety authority and the economy ministry jointly drew up a voluntary code for members of the scrap sector to monitor and manage radioactivity in metallurgical scrap at the end of 1999.
The government is about to approach the European Commission with a view to using the Spanish code as a model for the EU.
Story by Amanda Cooper
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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