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Recycling guide

Not sure where to recycle your plastic? How about batteries, CD’s or medicines? What happens to plastic bags and glass once you’ve thrown them away? Inspired by a conversation with Malaga-born Enrique Aguirre about an unsettling journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we decided to put together this guide to help you understand the nitty gritty of recycling.

By:  Tertulia Andaluza
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Recycling guide
Did you know? Every plastic bag you’ve ever used still exists in some form and will exist once you are dead

Separating your rubbish is not enough. An average person in Spain generates about 493 kilos of rubbish a year (source: INE – 2007). A preposterous amount when you really think about it. What we really need is to reuse more, consume less and consume responsibly. “Recycling is a complete loop. A joined circle. You are only recycling when you are buying recycled,” explains Lloyd Alter in

The future of the planet depends not only on the preservation of our natural resources but in our ability to reuse the waste we generate. The solution is not simple – but it lies in reducing, reusing and recycling. Separating our rubbish and doing it correctly takes time and energy, but it’s not really that hard once you get the facts straight and follow some basic rules. “Green is reusable. Green is refillable. Green is not disposable and downcylable,” states Alter. Hopefully this guide will make it all seem a little clearer.

x Organic waste

Food waste comprises 46% of all the rubbish we throw out. It belongs in the grey container. The biggest problem generated by rubbish dumps is the contaminated water that seeps into the ground. If you have a garden, why not make your own compost? It’s one solution for your organic waste and it helps avoid having to use chemical fertilizers in your garden. What will you need?A compost or scrap bin. Given enough time, all biodegradable material will compost. But beware. Not all materials are appropriate for composting at home.

x Paper and cardboard

21.4% of our waste is paper and cardboard. Newspapers, magazines, boxes… all of it belongs in the blue bin. 15 trees are cut down to make one tonne of paper. Reuse and recycle! You can always use the other side of the page to take notes, a box of washing powder can become a tambourine and you can make papier mâché dolls out of newspaper for your kids. When it comes to recycling, take note: any plastic, glue or grease on your paper or envelopes cannot be recycled. You should put it in the organic waste bin.

x Plastic

Plastic makes up 12% of our waste. Most should be recycled in the yellow bin. But take note: empty containers and remove lids or caps (they go in the grey bin). Confusion about what kinds of plastics can and can’t be recycled is rife. Different local recycling centres accept different types of plastics and different kinds of plastic must be recycled seperatley. The code system was designed to differentiate types of plastics. There is HDPW, PP and LDPE (detergents and shampoo), PET (water bottles), and PVC, PC and PS (disposable plastic cups). Avoid the last three. Some are hazardous and cannot be recycled alongside most other plastics.

x Metal

Making up 4.3% of our rubbish, metal should be taken to your nearest Punto Limpio (recycling centre). Cans of paint, varnish, oil, aerosol cans… all of these are extremely toxic. And don’t forget about batteries. They have their very own container. It is vital that you take them to be treated. The same goes for electrical appliances. The time it takes to decompose depends on what kind of metal it is. For example, a bottle top can take 30 years to disappear.

x Glass

Glass makes up 7% of our rubbish and belongs in the green igloo. This is the place for all your bottles of juice, fizzy drinks, wine, spirits and jars. Before binning them, try to find alternative uses such as storage. If you don’t recycle it can take up to 4,000 years to disappear. Glass erodes like rocks on the beach. Take note: crystal glass cannot be recycled. Neither can ceramic, jugs, glassware, plates or light bulbs. They should be taken to your nearest recycling centre or put in the organic waste bin.

x Plastic bags

So, what’s wrong with using plastic bags? Everything. Every bag you’ve ever used still exists in some form and will exist once you are dead. The hopeful recycle symbol inspires conscientious citizens to toss them into the yellow recycle bin. Unfortunately they often clog the machinery and (depending on your local recycling centre) don’t actually get recycled. Even when they are, they are only converted into other non-biodegradable products. The solution? Don’t use them. Use reusable canvas bags instead (not paper ones!).

x Steel tins and aluminium cans

Recycling your food tins and aluminium cans is great. But reusing them will do even more to cut your carbon footprint. All you need is imagination to decorate your house with garden lanterns, pencil holders, candle holders, plant pots and waste paper baskets. Once you’ve had your fill, recycling is the way to go. Make sure you remove any lids, rinse well and crush before placing in the yellow bin. Contamination can disrupt the smelting process and crushing tins saves space for transportation and storage. For ideas, check out

x Tetra Paks / Tetra Briks

Aseptic packaging that can keep milk fresh for months and is made from layers of paper, plastic and aluminium - a fantastic invention. Tetra Pack has invested a great deal on proving their “green-ness” and studies show that they are more “green” than using bottles. But how green are they? “First… few places recycle Tetra Paks. Second, the places that say they recycle Tetra Paks are liars. What does “re” mean? It means again. Can a Tetra Pak be made into another Tetra Pak? No” ( When you place a tetra pak in the yellow bin, what next? It can either be turned into Tectán or separated – a difficult and unfeasible process.

x Special cases

Take your pharmaceuticals to your pharmacy, ink cartridges to computer store, furniture to recycling centres, along with photographic materials and X-rays. Studies are underway to find a way to recycle CD’s. In the meantime, use them as coasters or to keep birds away from your plants. All these special materials make up 7.6% of our waste. If you have any questions contact your nearest recycling centre.


Tertulia recommends

Must see

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Almeria
Urb. El Toyo. Avda. de los Juegos del Mediterráneo, 37
Operator: 8:30 to 13:00. Open 24 hours.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Cadiz
Pol. Ind. El Yunque. C/ Puerto de Santa María
Open: Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 21:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Cordoba
Pol. Ind. El Granadal
Open: Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 21:00. Sunday from 09:00 to 14:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Granada
Pol. Ind. El Florío
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 20:00. Sunday from 09:00 to 15:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Huelva
C/ Joaquín Turina, 21
Open: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 19:00. Saturday from 09:00 to 14:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Linares
Oil. Ind. Los Rubiales
C/ Mina San José
Open: Tuesday to Friday from 16:00 to 19:30. Saturday from 10:30 to 14:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Malaga
C/ Hermanas Bronte, 87. Pol. Ind. Guadalhorce
Open: Monday to Saturday from 07:00 to 21:00. Sundays from 09:00 to 16:00.

Recycling Centre - Punto Limpio Seville
Pol. Ind. Calonge. Ronda de Circunvalación, SE-30
Open: Monday to Saturday from 08:15 to 21:00.




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El 17 November 2009 a las 9:15 PM, Cecilia Bogaard dijo...

A website to checkout for ideas on life on a budget and ways to reuse and recycle. Check out (in English).

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El 10 May 2011 a las 5:14 PM, Juan dijo...

Los tetra packs y las bolsas de plástico si se reciclan… informense

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El 11 May 2011 a las 9:26 AM, Lakshmi I. Aguirre dijo...

En ningún momento hemos dicho lo contrario ;)

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El 19 January 2012 a las 11:30 AM, mike dijo...

A simple solution for deciding which bin to use is for companies to put a coloured dot on their products.
Isn’t this feasible?

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El 16 January 2015 a las 8:20 AM, ronnie dijo...

dishearten@mawkish.utopians” rel=”nofollow”>.…

good info!…

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El 2 February 2015 a las 10:28 PM, chester dijo...

format@spicy.woolly” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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El 2 February 2015 a las 11:03 PM, jim dijo...

retires@interrelated.wally” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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El 2 February 2015 a las 11:37 PM, ian dijo...

helvas@prie.quieted” rel=”nofollow”>.…

ñýíêñ çà èíôó!!…

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El 3 February 2015 a las 12:12 AM, jack dijo...

maladjusted@bicarbonate.excessive” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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