Sustainability / The circular economy: quality recycling to close the cycle


Recycling - which is in the very DNA of paper and board – enables the cycle of the circular bioindustry of paper to be closed. The key figures for measuring the level of recycling is how much of all the paper and board consumed in Spain is collected for recycling after use, and how much does our paper industry recycle, i.e. how much paper for recycling is used as raw material. And in both cases, Spain passes with top marks.

Paper collection rate in Spain has remained stable in recent years at around the European average or slightly higher. As far as the recycling rate is concerned (75%), In Spain that figure is exceeded by several per cent; not in vain, the Spanish paper industry is the third largest recycler in Europe in terms of volume.

The quality of raw materials for recycling is the new challenge in the paper and board recycling world, as part of a new scenario marked by China’s recent waste policy and the role played by paper and board packaging in a context of economic growth with an increasing proportion of e-commerce.

Selective municipal collection of paper and board in Spain is a success story within Europe. The strength and suitability of our system and the commitment and collaboration of all agents involved will undoubtedly enable us to face the changes taking place in the international paper for recycling market with success.

Thanks to its large recycling capacity, the Spanish paper industry guarantees that it will recycle all paper and board collected selectively that complies with European quality standards, i.e., with European standard EN 643. 

The promotion of paper and board recycling is one of ASPAPEL’s strategic objectives and includes the ambitious project known as Tu Papel es Importante, designed to enhance continuous improvement in the recovery and recycling of paper and board by reinforcing the blue bin collection system and developing supplementary formulas at municipal level that offer greater room for improvement. As part of this project, in 2016, ASPAPEL launched the Pajaritas Azules or Blue Birdies - Tu Papel 21 · Municipalities programme, directed at local councils (municipalities and local groups) with more than 50,000 inhabitants and provincial capitals. ASPAPEL’s Blue Birdies programme won the prestigious biennial European Paper Recycling Award 2017, organised by the European Paper Recycling Council, as recognition of the work and commitment of the town councils that participate in the programme and of their citizens.


Another initiative designed to enhance improvement of the already very successful Spanish paper and board collection and recycling system is the New Recovery Roundtable (Mesa de la Nueva Recuperación). Constituted in 2015 at ASPAPEL, it is an open platform for companies in the paper and board recovery sector that seek to contribute to defining and developing strategies and projects for the future of recovery and recycling in Spain. Among its main lines of action is the promotion of the recovery sector’s business model and, more specifically, fostering private management of commercial/industrial waste, a reduction and standardisation of the bureaucratic processes involved across the nation, and the promotion of good practices and the fight against illegal intrusion. Improving the quality of recycled materials and decreasing accident rates are two other priority areas it is dedicated to. Work is also being done on assuring tax incentives for waste from recycling as a means of maximising subsidy and financing opportunities, and on improving the public’s view of the sector.


How the collection of paper for recycling and recycling mills work 

How to do your bit for quality recycling   

10 strategic points for paper collection and recycling   

 Sustainability Report 2021   

Update 2022 Sustainability Report (in Spanish only)