Recycling is already part of our life and our way of thinking. Intensive agriculture in greenhouses has also joined this sustainable commitment to the circular economy. In fact, the data endorse the sector and invite us to reflect on the erroneous image people have of it. While it’s true that this agricultural activity must use plastics to cover greenhouses, the sector only generates 7% of plastic waste and contributes more than others to recycling, as it accounts for 9% of the total reused, not including packaging. In absolute terms and taking into account the volume of plastics generated by Spanish agriculture (147,000 tons per year), this sector recycles 48% of the total.
95% of waste is properly managed
According to Rosa Garcia, environmentalist of the Department of Agroecology of the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organizations (Aproa), “95% of the waste is managed properly and only the remaining 5% generates visual and environmental impact. Pirate managers collect waste, value what is profitable for them, and indiscriminately throw away what isn’t profitable for them. There’s also a small proportion of farmers who have bad recycling practices.”
“It’s a problem that worries the sector and that damages its image, but it’s a problem caused a minority,” she added. In this sense, Aproa has made available to farmers a service so they can denounce where there is abandoned waste in the environment.
“In addition to managing waste adequately, research is being carried out on new biodegradable or compostable materials, which are showing very good performance,” she added. The energy recovery of the waste that cannot be recycled offers an alternative so it can be incorporated back into the production cycle. “They stop being waste and become a resource”, Garcia stated. A treatment plant in Almeria, for example, transforms 1,000 kilos of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle into 900 liters of liquid fuel.
The sector is participating in the European project Reinwaste, “Remanufacture the food supply chain by testing INNovative solutions for zero inorganic WASTE”, with aims at managing the inorganic waste generated in agri-food systems (such as containers, packaging, plastics, sacks, bottles, etc.) according to the current paradigm of the bio-economy and the circular economy.