Thirteen Almería city councils will promote recycling by 100% of plastic waste

The Minister of Agriculture, Cattle raising, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Carmen Crespo, has chaired today in the Government Delegation of the Junta de Andalucía in Almería the act of voluntary adhesion to the pilot campaign for the surveillance and control of agricultural plastic waste 'Compromiso Blanco' of thirteen city councils of the province and which was born with the vocation of extending to other provinces with large wintering farms such as Huelva, Granada, Malaga or Cadiz.

Crespo thanked the councilors of the municipalities of Almería, Roquetas de Mar, El Ejido, Nijar, Huercal-Overa, Vícar, Pulpí, Berja, Dalías, Las Mojonera, Balanegra, Adra and Caves of Almanzora, present at the event, its "commitment to economic and environmental sustainability in Andalusia in the field of protected horticulture".

The objective of ‘Compromiso Blanco’ is compliance with the legal obligations that correspond to each party and, also, optimize available human and technical resources. As detailed by the counselor, "We are recycling the 85% of plastic in seven collection points in the province of Almería. We are committed to recycling 100% of plastic ".

General waste generation, and plastics in particular, It is one of the most questioned issues in any economic activity and protected agriculture must adequately respond to these social demands. It is not only about complying with environmental legality, but also about putting in value voluntary practices or that go further and contribute a differential value to Andalusian horticultural productions.

The municipalities know the territory, the problem and play a fundamental role in addressing this surveillance. Adequate coordination and information to the owners of the farms in the surveillance actions is more effective than the number of inspections themselves.

Identification and inspection phases

The ‘White Commitment’ campaign is divided into an “identification phase to be executed by the municipalities, with field visits to gather information ", which are then sent to the territorial delegation, and inform the owners of the farms of their obligations as a producer of waste and the different options for its management. And a second “inspection phase to be executed by the territorial delegations, in which the information received is analyzed and inspection actions are prioritized based on a risk analysis; if punishable facts are evidenced, the corresponding file is opened ".

However, the priority is to inform about this protocol and its content both among agricultural companies and the general public, to promote adequate knowledge on the part of farmers, technical staff, cooperatives and fruit and vegetable marketing companies of the benefits of the correct management of agricultural plastic waste, using authorized collection centers. De facto, the Ministry is finalizing a campaign to inform and raise awareness about the advantages of proper management of agricultural waste under the slogan, «I grow under plastic, I recycle plastic ".

Horticultural producers in greenhouses are already benchmarks in the management of plant remains from the perspective of the circular economy, through the treatment of these wastes for the generation of composting or biomass, and the production and use of alternative energy sources such as biogas.

The wintering area in Andalusia amounts to almost 38.000 hectares of which the 83% is located in Almería. The use of plastic in agriculture in general and in protected horticultural production in particular, It is a fundamental technological tool for agricultural production. In this sense, Crespo recalled that "Andalusia has reached a new record in fruit and vegetable exports, with 4.391 million euros in sales abroad between January and August 2020″.

Also, Crespo has indicated "it is essential to implement the extended producer responsibility regime and we have requested it to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge", because it is about involving not only the horticultural sector but also including the, producers of plastic in the principles of the circular economy that concerns us all.

Corrective measures

The Junta de Andalucía is already adopting corrective measures that include the cleaning of channels. They have been invested 440.000 euros in the withdrawal of 1 million kilos of waste in the municipalities of Adra, Balanegra, Berja, Cuevas del Almanzora, El Ejido, The Mojonera, Roquetas de Mar and Vícar. Also, In terms of training and transfer, two projects have been launched by Ifapa such as 'Reinwaste' and 'Recicland', as Crespo remembered, there are different lines of aid aimed at promoting good practices in waste management, mainly plant remains, through the operational programs managed by the Organizations of Producers of Fruits and Vegetables (OPFH) or agri-environmental aid.

In the opinion of the counselor, it is important to move to Europe, now that the Community Agrarian Policy is being debated, everything that Andalusian agriculture has worked on in environmental issues, in sustainable practices such as the promotion of plastic raffia for biodegradable, the use of compost of vegetable origin or green manuring, and encourage farmers to continue applying them. “We are going to send a very important message to the markets of the world and to all of Europe: that here environment and agriculture is one. Agriculture is a CO2 sink per se, and greenhouses are too. We must have agriculture to lower CO2 emissions on our planet ", has completed.

The event was also attended by the delegate of the Government of the Junta de Andalucía in Almería, Maribel Sanchez; the general director of Agricultural and Livestock Production, Manuel Gomez Galera; the general director of Environmental Quality and Climate Change, Maria Lopez Sanchís; and the territorial delegate of Agriculture in Almería, Aranzazu Martin.