The waste containers distributed around the city promote selective waste disposal in a way that makes it easy and accessible for everyone.
All containers used in Barcelona are user-friendly and made with absolutely safe materials. The containers have been placed so that everyone has a nearby disposal point.
In November 2010, Barcelona's waste collection network finally incorporated waste disposal containers for organic matter, the brown ones. This has completed the range of selective waste disposal options, which already includes those for general household waste (grey), glass (green), paper (blue) and plastic packaging, tetra paks and other polycoat cartons, cans (yellow).
In addition to containers, various "Punts Verds" (Household Waste and Recycling Centres, permanent or mobile collection facilities in each district) facilitate further separation of waste.
Characteristics of Barcelona's waste container network
containers for different types of waste
Our aim is to encourage selective waste disposal by installing the whole range of waste containers around the entire city:
Yellow: plastic packaging, tetra paks and other polycoat cartons, cans
This waste is taken to sorting plants where the different materials are separated by means of a combination of visual, mechanical and manual techniques. The various sorted materials are compacted, packaged and distributed to recycling facilities. Tetra paks and other polycoat cartons are used to manufacture paper bags, cardboard and aluminium sheets, chipboard, cardboard for packaging, paper towels, and so on. Steel cans are melted down for use in the vehicle industry. Aluminium cans are used in making bicycles, home appliances, screws, etc. And plastic packaging is made into plastic bags, street furniture, signage, clothing, boxes and other containers for non-food applications (bleach, detergents, etc.)
What belongs in the yellow container: plastic packaging (water bottles, plastic bags, yogurt pots, etc.), food and drink cans, tetra paks and other polycoat cartons, metal bottle tops and lids, aluminium foil and plastic wrap, expanded polystyrene trays, etc.
What doesn't belong in the yellow container: toys, hoses, pipes and so on, materials such as videotapes, CDs, and hazardous materials packaging (such as for solvents and paints), which must be taken to one of the city's Household Waste and Recycling Centres.
Glass collected selectively is taken to recycling plants where it is cleaned and ferrous material removed with a magnet. It is then crushed into powder (glass selected, cleaned and crushed) and used to manufacture glass containers identical to the originals: bottles, jars, light bulbs, etc.
What belongs in the green container: glass containers and bottles.
What doesn't belong in the green container: Broken glasses, sheet glass, mirrors, pottery, plates, light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, etc., which must be taken to one of the city's Household Waste and Recycling Centres.
Blue: paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard are taken to recycling plants where they are made into large bales of shredded paper. These bales are left to soak and strained to filter out the ferrous materials. The resulting pulp is dried, rolled out and stored on spools. These are distributed to paper mills, which use the pulp to make new boxes, wrapping paper, bags for the construction industry, stationery, and even toilet paper.
What belongs in the blue container: cardboard packaging and boxes, newspapers, magazines, notebooks without a metal spiral, envelopes, paper bags, writing paper, wrapping paper, etc.
What doesn't belong in the blue container: Dirty paper products, such as paper napkins or towels stained with oil, which go in the brown container. Tetra paks and other polycoat cartons and aluminium foil belong in the yellow container. Cardboard pizza boxes for home delivery go in the grey container.
Brown: organic waste
Organic residues are waste materials of plant and/or animal origin such as food scraps and garden trimmings, which decompose biologically. They make up a third of the waste generated in homes, a highly significant amount.
Organic waste and clippings from pruning done around the city are taken to the ecoparcs, where they are turned into either compost or biogas. The better-quality organic waste is used to obtain compost, which can be used as an organic fertilizer in farming and gardening or as a soil structuring agent when restoring degraded areas. The rest is used to generate biogas, a renewable energy source that can generate electricity.
What belongs in the brown container: Leftovers of meat, fish, bread, fruit, vegetables, seafood and nuts, eggshells, corks, tea bags, coffee grounds, paper towels and napkins stained with oil, garden waste, etc.
What doesn't belong in the brown container: Sweepings, hair, nappies and animal faeces, which go in the grey container. Paper and cardboard, which go in the blue container.
Grey: general household waste
General household waste refers to all waste unsorted before collection. This waste is taken to the ecoparcs, where various processes are employed to sort out the paper/cardboard, containers, glass and other materials, in order to incorporate them into the recycling process. Non-recyclable waste is dumped in landfills or incinerated.
Ideally, these latter options should serve only for waste that cannot be reused or recycled, but the limitations of the existing collection and treatment methods mean that some potentially reusable and recyclable waste cannot be sorted.
What belongs in the grey container: Cigarette butts, sanitary towels, nappies, sweepings, cotton, hair, used pens and pencils, animal faeces.
What doesn't belong in the grey container: Tea bags, paper towels soiled by cooking oil or food scraps (egg shells or leftovers of shellfish, etc.), which go in the brown container. Pieces of wood, CDs, packaging that contained toxic or hazardous materials, and clothing, which go to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres
Household Waste and Recycling Centres are where waste is taken that must not be thrown away in the containers in the street. Using the city's Household Waste and Recycling Centres contributes to the recycling process and helps to preserve the environment.
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ZDROJ: Barcelona pel Medi Ambient