Call for Spanish waste collection charges

Waste management industry warns that improving standards will require householders to pay true costs

The Spanish government should require all municipal authorities to introduce specific charges for household waste collection, according to the independent waste management industry body, Club Español de los Residuos (CER). The organisation argues that a lack of such charges in 90% of Spanish municipalities is an underlying cause of serious waste disposal problems. It believes that the government must introduce legislation because local authorities are proving unwilling to "bite the bullet".

Speaking at a conference in Barcelona last week, CER executive director Carlos Martinez said that the lack of collection charges was preventing the positive economic incentive needed for waste management standards to be improved. Currently, some 15% of solid urban waste is dumped illegally. In its latest review of Spain's environmental performance, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stressed that it had "an urgent task to strengthen controls on municipal waste".

Speaking at the same conference, senior environment ministry official Juan Martinez said that his department was studying the use of graduated charges on household waste as one of the ways in which the government could achieve its waste reduction and management targets.

According to the Spanish federation of municipalities and provinces, the law does not oblige councils to levy a specific charge for waste collection and its introduction "has not been discussed to date". Most local authorities include waste disposal charges within broader property taxes.

Spain's national urban waste plan requires elimination of all unlicensed landfill sites and introduction of selective waste collection by 2005 (ENDS Daily 23 November 1999).

Follow Up:
CER, tel: +34 91 747 9428; Spanish environment ministry, tel: +34 91 597 6030; Spanish federation of municipalities and provinces, tel: +34 91 364 3700.

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