Baggin' it in Barcelona: Recycling Bag Fun for Everyone!

This was announced in February, but we are finally seeing it in homes in the capital of Catalonia. The City of Barcelona has distributed three bags to 720,000 households; yellow, green and blue to correspond with the colours of the recycling containers found in the city. Each bag is decorated with the list of appropriate materials that you can put inside. This not quite city-wide campaign is a pilot project to encourage recycling and hopefully add to the increasing amount of recyclable waste collected in the last few years. In 2006 the City collected more than 266,000 tons of recyclables, representing 31.4% of the total waste generated in the city and 165% more than the year 2000 (5% more than the year 2005). The City says that the biggest growth was in organics collection which has grown 511.8% in 5 years - but this is also an ongoing pilot project whose availability throughout the city has increased annually. Stats for recycling per person per year in Barna read like this: 53 kg of paper, 16 kg of glass, 20 kg of oversized waste like furniture, 8.8 kg of plastics and 53.7 kg of organics. Regardless, the new fandangled recycling bags (kind of like Ontario's blue boxes for curbside collection), made from 100% recyclable polypropylene are aimed at encouraging people not only to recycle more, and more effectively, but perhaps also to start using our beloved, LCA-approved cloth grocery bags. We've seen that they are the best choice according to the Australians, so let's get Catalonia on board. In BCN you bring your garbage/recycling to one of the more than 7000 containers on the street whenever you get the urge to recycle. Thus, many people use plastic grocery bags to carry out that chore. With reusable recycling bags people don't "need" nor do they have an "excuse" to get plastic bags at the supermarket. No excuses now! Our dream is to see the Catalans using their great cloth bags AND recycling with a municipally-supplied PP bag (all while reducing their consumption habits and choosing local products with less packaging). Everybody wins. Instead of extending the life cycle of a plastic grocery bags in a feeble attempt to extend their use phase and reduce their impacts, Barcelonians can elimiante them completely from their garbage diet. Or so we hope. We have seen a few folks actually using the bags to bring their groceries home! Still, a great use for these colourful little guys. Let's hope the bags are well-received and the City gives them to all of us. I'm still waiting for mine...Read the press release in Spanish here.

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