‘Wake-up call for the Spanish Government’: fake results on plastic recycling prompts demands for deposit return system in Spain


29 May 2024

May24 - Press release - Report DRS in Spain featured image

Manipulation of national data is described as “paradigmatic” of current EU trends.

Madrid, 29 May 2024 – A Spanish corporation responsible for managing packaging waste in the beverage industry has been discovered manipulating data. Ecoembes claims a 71% separate collection rate for small plastic bottles (2021), but the reality is a dismal 36%—well below the ambitious 70% target mandated by Spanish law for 2023.

This non-compliance bears importance as it obliges the immediate implementation of a deposit return system (DRS) for cans, bottles, and cartons. The groups behind the study, Zero Waste Europe and Zero Waste Alliance, point out that DRS works in more than 50 regions around the world and ensures the reuse and recycling of 90% of beverage containers. 

The groups are now urging the Spanish Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, to acknowledge the non-compliance.

This dismal 36% is a wake-up call for the Spanish Government. Just admit we’ve missed the mark! As mandated by the Spanish Waste Law, it’s high time to roll out the deposit return system for beverage containers,” said Zero Waste Alliance spokespersons.

The Alliance says Spain’s manipulation of recycling results is paradigmatic at a European level. Zero Waste Europe has announced that it will take the evidence presented in the report to the European Commission to put an end to the fake data blocking the implementation of zero waste policies. Member States must report the initial data on the separate collection of beverage plastic bottles for the year 2022.

The consultancy Eunomia led work on the study, entitled “Analysis of the Separate Collection Rate of Plastic Beverage Bottles of up to three litres in Spain”. It forms three conclusions: opacity in Spain’s packaging waste data; a lack of solid methodology for tracking legal milestones in plastic bottle collection from the Ministry; and inconsistencies in the beverage industry’s data.

Joan Marc Simon, founder of Zero Waste Europe, expressed concern over the alarming lack of data on packaging recycling, stating:

“If recycling rates were achieved, it would be transformative. But the industry’s ongoing data manipulation hinders the adoption of zero waste policies. That’s why we’re left with no choice but to bring this evidence to the European Commission, urging Eurostat to reject these fabricated figures that stall progress.”


Notes to the editor

The Zero Waste Alliance is composed by: Friends of the Earth, CECU, Ecologists in Action, Greenpeace, Per la Mar Viva, Rezero, Retorna and Surfrider

Press contacts

Seán Flynn, Media Outreach & Communications Officer at Zero Waste Europe, [email protected] or [email protected] / +32 471 96 55 93

Marta San Roman (Greenpeace): 680 400 645

Roberto Herreros (Ecologistas en Acción): 617 026 432

César Sánchez (Retorna): 644 165 965


About Zero Waste Europe 

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) is the European network of communities, local leaders, experts, and change agents working towards a better use of resources and the elimination of waste in our society. We advocate for sustainable systems; for the redesign of our relationship with resources; and for a global shift towards environmental justice, accelerating a just transition towards zero waste for the benefit of people and the planet. www.zerowasteeurope.eu 


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