As any responsible society should, Spain has a well-developed system of recycling used materials like paper, plastic, or soda cans. You can find recycle bins, receptacles, and containers all over the country.
We know that there are many plastics in use in Spain, but we can at least recycle to help. If you are new to Spain and come from another country the recycle system may be a bit different for you. There are usually a variety of recycle bins scattered around every city, town and even small village. Sometimes many of the recycling bins are grouped together and other times you will see just one or two. Let’s learn a little more about recycling in Spain!
When recycling in spain, the most common bins are those for Glass and Plastic. You will find fewer for the Paper, Oils and Used Clothing.
How to Recycle in Spain
We will try to help guide you, so you know what belongs in each of the recycle bins. Sometimes you may need to hunt around for a couple of them, but they do exist, so please do your part to recycle. The photo above shows what they look like in Almuñécar, but they may look different in other parts of Spain, like recycling in Malaga or Madrid. The color coding will remain the same, no matter where you are in the country, so please remember to recycle in Spain.
What do the colors mean? What goes in each Recycle Bin?
Green Dome Recycle Bin (pictured above to the far right)
Glass Bottles, Jars and Containers – do not include the metal lids to jars.
Yellow Recycle Bin (pictured above second from the right)
- Recycle Plastic containers (Envases de plastico) – many of the plastic containers are made to easily be compacted.
- Recycle Metal containers (Envases de metalicos) tin or can = lata
Please be sure to rinse these prior to recycling, to help keep the recycle bins clean and free from unwanted critters.
- Recycle Plastic bags (Bolsas de plastico) – It is often good to just reuse your plastic bags, but when you are finished with them, please recycle. A better option is to purchase the reusable bags from the supermarkets and limit your use of plastic bags.
- Recycle Bricks or Tetra Pak (Bricks) – Most commonly used for packaging liquids like milk, juice, tomato sauce and more.
Blue Recycle Bin (pictured above second from the left)
- Recycle Paper (Papel) – standard office papers or newspaper.
- Recycle Cardboard (Carton) – cardboard boxes, cereal boxes and the like.
Tall Bright Green Recycle Bin (pictured above on the far left)
- Recycle Used Clothing (Ropas Usado) – It doesn’t have to be used, but the intent is to recycle your used clothing, so perhaps others in need will be able to use them.
- Recycle Used Shoes (Zapatos Usado) – The same goes for your shoes, but please don’t use as a garbage bin.
Orange / Brown Recycle Bin
- Recycle Domestic Greases and Oils (Aceites domestico)
You won’t see these as often, but they’re for recycling used cooking oil, reciclado de aceite usado de cocina. Many specifically state you are to fill a plastic bottle with the oil and deposit the bottle in the orange bin. Pouring used cooking oil down the drain can cause a series of problems, including clogging pipes. Recycled oil can be used for things, like making soap or even as biodiesel, for sustainable transportation.
- Recycle Domestic Greases and Oils (Aceites domestico)
Recycle Household Goods and Furniture
If you would like to recycle or dispose of household goods (Mirrors, Furniture, Shelving, Appliances, Chairs, etc.), or items due to remodeling, please place the items out near your garbage bin on Thursday nights in Almuñécar. The odd things will be collected every Friday, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. If you have large items or many items, it may be best to contact the Town Hall and be sure the pick up happens.
This is also a great opportunity to apply the “reuse” concept and go out hunting for hidden treasures, which you can bring new life to. Perhaps you will find some furniture, which needs a little tender loving care to bring it back to life.
There is usually a battery collection point at the entrance of the local grocery stores, like Mercadona and Dia.
There are some great products to help you keep your recycled goods organized in your home. You may not be able to recycle absolutely everything, but as long as you try to do your part about recycling in Spain!
- Bama Poker – Conjunto de 4 cubos modulares para la basura, 20 Litros
- Balvi – Recycle cubo basura reciclaje. Funda extraible con 4 bolsillos laterales
- Wesco 12381 – Cubo de basura integrado (2 compartimentos de 15 L), plata/antracita
- Reciclaje papelera – Juego de 3 bolsas de reciclaje con asas de transporte
Recycle in Spain Vocabulary
Reciclalo (Recycle It!)
Spanish – English
- Aceites – Oils
- Bolsa – Bag
- Carton – Cardboard
- Envases – Container
- Lata – Can or Tin
- Metalicos – Metals
- Papel – Paper
- Plastico – Plastic
- Ropas – Clothing
- Zapatos – Shoes
Items which should not be recycled: (aerosol cans, ceramics, dishes, light bulbs, pizza boxes, scrap metal, waxed boxes, window glass)
With the amount of recycling containers scattered all over, you have little to no excuse not to recycle in Spain. Thank you for taking the time to recycle. Please set a good example and help encourage others to recycle as well.
For more information on recycling in Spain or where to recycle specific materials, check here.
The goal of the European Union is that by 2020 all European countries will recycle at least 50% of household and similar waste. When you’re in Spain, make sure you pitch in to help reach that goal!