ANSWERING YOUR DOUBTS
WHAT IS ORGANIC WASTE?
Organic waste is essentially composed of biodegradable matter, such as fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, eggshells, nut and seafood shells, other leftover food, coffee grounds and herbal teabags, cork stoppers (without plastic or other materials), matches and sawdust, soiled kitchen paper, used paper napkins and small-size garden waste.
WHAT DOES THIS INITIATIVE OF ORGANIC WASTE SEPARATION ENTAIL?
It is about sorting the content that we used to place in the garbage bin (orange lid) into two separate parts. On the one hand, the new, or organic part, which can be recycled to obtain biogas and fertiliser and goes into the brown lidded bin. And the other, non-recyclable waste, which goes into the grey bin with an orange lid.
This type of separation is already common in several Spanish and European cities.
The selective collection system for bio- or organic waste commenced on 1 November 2017 in 17 pilot areas within the Madrid municipal area and for large producers of this type of waste.
And this new collection service started on 1 October 2018 in 12 city districts
WHY SHOULD I SEPARATE ORGANIC WASTE FROM OTHER KINDS OF WASTE THAT GO INTO THE ORANGE LID BIN?
By sorting like this, the amount of garbage waste is reduced, which in turn reduces the amount sent to landfill, prolonging its useful life. In the same way, the waste that does go to landfill is more stable (and easier to handle) and less polluting (as there is no organic content and it produces less leachate).
WHAT DO THE NEW ORGANIC WASTE BINS LOOK LIKE?
The organic waste bins are grey with a brown lid. The garbage bin, for non-recyclable waste, is grey with an orange lid.
WHERE CAN I FIND THE NEW BINS?
They stand alongside the orange lid bins (non-recyclable waste).
WHO IS COVERED BY THE EXTENSION OF ORGANIC WASTE COLLECTION?
The selective collection of bio- or organic waste was launched on 1 November 2017 in 17 pilot areas of the capital. It also began at 50 major sites that produce this type of waste: hospitals, shopping centres, etc.
The amount of organic matter collected from the pilot areas and large producer centres from November 2017 to August 2018 totals 13,442.25 tonnes.
On 1 October 2018 this new selective collection was extended to 12 whole districts. They were gradually incorporated into the system:
- 1 October. Collection started in the districts of Arganzuela, Chamberí, San Blas-Canillejas and Villaverde.
- 1 November. These were joined by Tetuán, Moncloa-Aravaca, Ciudad Lineal, Villa and Puente de Vallecas.
- 1 December. These were followed by the districts of Latina, Vicálvaro and Hortaleza.
- During 2019 the rest of the city (11 more districts) will start using the system.
The participation of the residents and shopkeepers of the districts selected is of great importance in helping to make the separation efficient and will be a reference point when extending the separate collection of this waste to the rest of the city over the coming years.
WHO WAS INCLUDEDIN THE PILOT AREAS?
A total of 105,000 homes in the districts of Cuatro Caminos, Argüelles, Campamento, Casa de Campo, Almenara, Ciudad Universitaria, Vallehermoso, Puerta del Ángel, Pinar del Rey, Quintana, Salvador, Apóstol Santiago, Las Rosas, Los Rosales, Numancia-Portazgo, Butarque and Arganzuela were part of the pilot areas starting on 1 November 2017.
The business community in these areas was alsopart of this initiative, specifically those businesses that produce organic waste, such as bars, restaurants, food stores…
Other large producers of organic waste also took part in this pioneering project, such as shopping centres, hospitals, markets and other facilities of different kinds, which were informed accordingly.
These pioneering areas were the first to experience this new waste separation system. The participation of the residents and shopkeepers of the districts selected is of great importance in helping to make the separation efficient and will be a reference point when extending the separate collection of this waste to the entire city over the coming years.
HOW OFTEN WILL THE COLLECTION AND CLEANING OF THE BINS TAKE PLACE? WILL IT BE MORE OFTEN IN SUMMER?
Waste left in the street bins is collected daily except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Bins installed in the street undergo intensive cleaning at least once every two months and once a month in July and August. The surrounding area and the underside of the bins are cleaned on a monthly basis.
However, we should remember that the responsibility for cleaning communal organic waste bins lies with the residents’ community, as with the other bins.
WHAT DO I DO IF I WANT TO REQUEST ANOTHER BROWN LID BIN FOR MY COMMUNITY OR WE NEED A DIFFERENT SIZED BIN?
You can request one by calling 010 or via the Madrid Notifications App
CAN I USE AN ORDINARY BIN FOR ORGANIC WASTE AT HOME?
You can use any type of bin or recipient, although one with vents has the advantage of airing the waste inside, helping it to dry out and reducing smells and the accumulation of liquids at the bottom of the bag.
IS IT MANDATORY TO USE BIODEGRADABLE BAGS FOR ORGANIC MATTER? CAN I USE PLASTIC BAGS?
It is not obligatory to use biodegradable bags, but it is advisable. As they are more breathable, they prevent the liquids contained in organic matter to accumulate, making them easier to carry. And, as their name says, they decompose together with the organic matter so there is no need to separate the plastic bag from the waste at the composting plant, a process which is necessary with conventional bags.
WHAT HAPPENS TO PACKAGED FOOD?
Provided it is correctly separated from the package, the content can go into the organic matter bin and the packaging into the appropriate bin. If it is not correctly separated, it should all go into the garbage bag.
CAN I PUT COFFEE CAPSULES INTO THE ORGANIC BIN?
Coffee grounds can go into the organic bin but not capsules, because they are made from plastic or aluminium.
If you use capsules, they should be taken to a Punto Limpio (collection point).
CAN I DISPOSE OF TEABAGS OR OTHER HERBAL BAGS TOGETHER WITH THE ORGANIC WASTE EVEN IF THEY ARE STAPLED?
Yes, herbal teabags can be disposed of with the organic waste even when they are stapled. This is because both the tealeaves and the bag and label are made from biodegradable organic elements.
With regard to staples, there are very few brands left which use them, so their effect can be considered almost negligible.
CAN PAPER STAINED WITH ORGANIC MATTER BE PUT INTO THE ORGANIC BIN?
Yes, provided the paper is made from cellulose, which is organic and can decompose. It should only go with the organic matter if it is stained with food or oil. Clean paper should go into the paper bin to make new paper.
AND IF THE STAINS ARE SANITARY (BLOOD, ETC.)?
No, biological-sanitary domestic waste and paper stained with it belong in the garbage bin, especially plasters and similar dressings, as they are usually made entirely or partly from non-organic materials.
WHY ARE NAPPIES AND SANITARY NAPKINS NOT CONSIDERED ORGANIC WASTE?
Although faeces and cellulose contained in dirty nappies are organic, the other components are not. As they are mixed with the absorbent matter, they are very difficult to separate and recycle. This is why nappies are not considered organic waste and must go into the bin with an orange lid (garbage). The same applies to sanitary napkins.
It is useful to remember the existence of alternatives to disposable nappies and sanitary pads to reduce the production of waste treated at landfills.
WHY ARE USED NAPKINS AND PAPER AND CARDBOARD STAINED WITH FOOD OR OIL DISPOSED OF TOGETHER WITH ORGANIC MATTER AND NOT PAPER?
Both napkins and paper and cardboard can be put into the organic bin only if stained with food remains. They can be put into this container because both paper and cardboard are made from cellulose, a biodegradable vegetable matter. They cannot go into the organic bin if stained with non-food products such as paint, for example.
DO PET FAECES AND CAT LITTER ALSO GO INTO THE BROWN ORGANIC BIN?
No. They must go into the bin with the orange lid (residual waste). Although they are biodegradable, faeces cannot be mixed with organic waste, as they may contain microorganisms that can remain in these materials despite the composting process. This way we can prevent health risks.
Neither can cat litter be mixed with organic matter because it is made from inorganic materials.
CAN I PUT TEXTILES INTO THE ORGANIC BIN?
No. It’s true that in certain cases they are organic in origin but, given the variety of products and the existence of specific collection circuits (collection points, street bins…), they do not go into the organic bag.
WHAT IS SMALL-SIZE GARDEN WASTE?
They are small garden remains, bunches of flowers, grass cuttings, dead and fallen leaves, small stems of ornamental plants, etc., provided they are in small quantities. So this excludes branches and woody stems, which must be taken to a Punto Limpio.
DOES GARDEN WASTE INCLUDE WOOD AND WOODCHIPS?
It depends. Wood (or wood remains) which are not treated can be put into the organic bin. However, there is a serious risk of confusion, so if you are not sure, it is advisable to take them to the Punto Limpio or place them in the non-recyclable bin (orange lid).
DOES ORGANIC WASTE INCLUDE CORK STOPPERS?
Yes, because cork is also biodegradable.It is a natural product that comes from the bark of the cork oak and is treated without using chemical compounds: it is extracted from the tree bark and boiled in water twice before perforating it to make the stoppers.
Stoppers that are not included are those which are synthetic (made from plastic or silicone) and those with a plastic part on top.
I AM IN DOUBT ABOUT A SPECIFIC TYPE OF WASTE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you are in doubt about a certain type of waste, you should take it to the nearest Punto Limpio. These facilities receive clothes and footwear, X-rays, aerosols, alkaline and saline batteries and mobile phone batteries, ink cartridges, mineral or synthetic motor oil, car batteries, vegetable cooking oil, contaminated containers, paints and solvents, CDs, DVDs and video tapes, electrical and electronic appliances, fluorescent lights and light bulbs, rubble, trimmings, containers, medicine, wood, furniture, shelves, bed frames and mattresses, dishwashers, stoves and washing machines, refrigerators and air-conditioning appliances, paper and cardboard, glass and thermometers.
If you are still in doubt after reading this list, always place this type of waste in the garbage bin. This way you eliminate any possibility of “contaminating” organic waste with other types which would prevent or hinder the composting process or production of biogas.
In any event, you can clarify any doubts by calling 010 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY SEPARATE ORGANIC MATTER?
Separating organic matter improves the efficiency of processing the other types of waste and reduces the volume sent to landfill, which in turn extends the shell life of this facility. And sorting the different types of waste reduces the pollution of ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
WHAT BENEFITS DO I GET FROM SEPARATING ORGANIC WASTE?
One of the main benefits of separating waste is the transition toward a circular economic system in which waste is no longer produced, as everything is used for something. A sustainable city today is a better city for future generations. Successful separation depends on the joint responsibility of all and it benefits the whole of society.
AM I OBLIGED TO? WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T?
As from the moment this collection system is implemented, all producers of organic waste must add this new organic portion in their recycling.
We all have a common responsibility as citizens: to take good care of the environment by doing everything possible to slow down climate change, the desertification and deterioration of our land, together with the health risks posed by pollution. In this specific case, reducing organic waste in landfills leads to fewer greenhouse gases and fewer pollutants filtering into the aquifers that supply our community. That is why it is essential we all cooperate in separating waste.
IS IT THAT IMPORTANT? THERE IS JUST ONE OF ME. DOES IT MATTER IF I SEPARATE MY WASTE?
It is very important. Just think of the rubbish you produce every day and multiply it by a week or a month or a year and you’ll realise the effect recycling can have. Even more so when there are two people recycling, or three, or an entire block of houses… or the entire city!
And separating at source is the most effective way of making recycling more efficient. Many materials are lost or can hardly be reused because they are mixed together.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE ORGANIC WASTE ONCE I HAVE LEFT IT IN THE BROWN BIN?
The organic matter is taken to the appropriate processing plants where, using an anaerobic digestion procedure, they produce biogasand digester with fertilising properties suitable for restoration work on embankments and environmental land improvements.
Using aerobic treatment produces compost, a useful organic product as agricultural fertiliser and for restoring damaged land.
In Madrid, the plants where these processes are carried out are located in Valdemingómez Technology Park.
IN THAT CASE, ORGANIC WASTE IN THE GARBAGE BAG IS NOT PROCESSED AT ALL NOW?
Yes, of course. The organic matter in the garbage bag is reused by means of anaerobic digestion but it is much less effective. Mixed with other waste, the chemical reactions necessary to produce biogas become less effective and the resulting product is often of interior quality.
With this change we can obtain more and better biogas and fertiliser for the benefit of all citizens in Madrid.