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A study by Elisava Research denies the official statistics of plastic recycling in Spain

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Photo: Nick Fewings.

Elisava Research, Elisava's research department, has been working for a long time to link design and sustainability through the first level research work carried out by our team of researchers.

In this context, the study A realistic material flow analysis for end-of-life plastic packaging management in Spain: Data gaps and suggestions for improvements towards effective recyclability has just been published in the scientific journal Quartil 1 Sustainable Production and Consumption. This work is part of the doctoral thesis carried out from Elisava Research by the researcher Jose F López-Aguilar, directed by Javier Peña, PhD, General and Scientific Director of Elisava.

The work contradicts the official statistics on plastic recycling in Spain as a whole, showing that the separate collection of plastic packaging in Spain is much lower than what Ecoembes, the private and non-profit company, owned by industry and distribution, which is responsible for managing this waste in our country, assures. According to the study, only 10,7% of the total of what is put into circulation in the market is recycled, a figure far away from the 48% or even 70% recycling levels declared by Ecoembes.

Beyond verifying the current recycling rate, the study reveals how, without a commitment to materials and design science, it will not be possible to achieve the recycling targets set by the European Union. In this sense, and from the objectivity of scientific research, the necessary recommendations are given for the development of a waste management policy based on design and evidence.

This study by Elisava Research, signed by Jose F López-Aguilar, Eva Sevigné-Itoiz, Maria Lluïsa Maspoch and Javier Peña, sheds light on a hidden reality and opens a new path to position design as a strategic axis that brings our society closer to circularity. The goal: to have an impact on reality through design and sustainability and to achieve the welfare of the planet by interpreting the value of matter and materials from the One Health concept.

Elisava as an agent of change and transformation of society

From Elisava, and from the platform and consultancy Material Designers, based on experimentation, design and engineering to innovate through materials, we position ourselves as agents of change and transformation, interpreting the impact that materials have on our society at all levels. It is clear to us that the chemical elements that make up materials, just as they govern the economy and many of the geopolitical conflicts that take place in our world, should be taught at the same level as letters and numbers, since they represent a necessary language for the interpretation of our reality.

In this sense, from design, with design and through design, Elisava represents a driver of innovation with the ability to raise the right questions and provide the necessary answers to converge with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These have become a clear and interpretable tool for everyone for the welfare of the planet and to achieve the long-awaited circularity of our economy and society. 

Studies such as this one are part of Elisava's firm commitment to research in areas such as sustainability, circularity and the welfare of the planet, showing that, beyond specific day-to-day actions, necessary to give meaning to the concept of sustainability, Elisava is committed to generating knowledge that impacts society and the institutions responsible for implementing environmental policies.