25 years ago, in Spain we did not know why we had to recycle. Today, 85% of us citizens have more than four buckets at home for this purpose. A quarter of a century goes a long way. This is how long Ecoembes – the organization that manages the recycling of packaging that is placed in the yellow and blue container – has been operating. To celebrate their birthday, yesterday they organized the first edition of “Circularity Day”, an event on the circular economy in which Rosa Trigo, the CEO, revealed the ins and outs of the entity’s new strategic plan. Days before she attended LA RAZÓN.
—A quarter of a century in Ecoembes. How was Spain then and how is it now?
25 years ago we launched the necessary infrastructure to build the habit of separating for recycling, in a society that did not have the environmental awareness that exists today. And we had to do it together with companies and public administrations. Working together. Now, Spain is among the 10 countries that recycle the most packaging, according to Eurostat.
—There will be pedagogical challenges to address…
We have educated two generations in the habit of separating waste and today it is the most widespread environmental practice in Spain, but it is not enough. We have to do better, correct mistakes that we still continue to make. And, above all, it is time to raise awareness of the urgent need to reduce waste generation, encourage reuse and eradicate garbage.
—What do you want your appointment to mean?
In these 25 years we have done many things, we have achieved successes (and also failures), but we cannot stop here. I hope to reinforce the values that have led Ecoembes to be a benchmark and correct the mistakes we have made in the past. I am confident in making Ecoembes grow, expanding our scope of action and the number of companies that trust us. But, above all, I hope to achieve the goal that we have set in our new Strategic Plan of working towards a future without waste. Not only as CEO of Ecoembes, but as a committed citizen who believes that we can all be activists and part of the change.
—Among his main achievements, they tell me, is the leadership of both the company’s operations and innovation strategy or the current strategic plan.
Yes, but it is not just my achievement. It’s from the team. The key to success is in the team.
—Let’s go one by one. Do you plan any changes to Ecoembes’ operations?
In this new stage, the objective of getting more material to recycling plants will continue to be present, with more personalized collections or with incentives, with the use of technology and AI. In addition, we add the challenge of bringing all that experience and knowledge to the recycling of commercial packaging, which we are also going to manage.
—The European trend is to eliminate packaging. Will it affect Ecoembes?
In Spain, 478 kilos of garbage are generated per person per year; It is clear that we have a serious problem as a society. We must reduce the generation of garbage, from production to use. This also happens in packaging. We must rethink them, design them differently, reuse them and, of course, reduce them. Recycling, although essential, should be the last option.
—In innovation: what science fiction ideas can we expect?
Our challenge for 2030 is to make the most of new technologies such as AI, blockchain or data analytics. We will integrate the 8,131 municipalities in Spain into digital platforms that connect the more than 500,000 containers, collection trucks, sorting plants and recyclers. Everything to do a more detailed monitoring of the process and the service provided.
—Let’s talk about the strategic plan. They say it will mark the beginning of a new stage of the organization “beyond recycling.” What does this mean?
With this plan we aspire to achieve greater and better recycling, which for us translates into placing Spain within the top 5 of countries that recycle the most packaging. And we will do it through four lines: promoting co-responsibility, committing to transparency, helping companies respond to a society that is increasingly committed to the environment and betting on an efficient, agile and flexible management model. Reduction and reuse are going to be key in our roadmap.
—The circularity of the packaging is not complete, what is missing?
Circularity is much more than recycling. We must rethink production and consumption models. At Ecoembes we want to be agents of change in this transition, but it is an enormous and collective challenge. We cannot and do not want to do it alone.
—Is a future without waste really viable?
I want to think that it is possible. But it requires will, co-responsibility and the collaboration of the entire society, just as happened with the arrival of recycling in our country. I had the opportunity to be part of Ecoembes from the beginning and the habit of recycling was something unthinkable. Today, I can proudly say that we have achieved a shared achievement.
A quarter of a century within Ecoembes
This proud, travel-loving mother has set a goal for herself as a citizen: a zero-waste future. The CEO has experience on her side: she has been in the sector for more than 30 years, 25 of them at Ecoembes. Graduate and Doctor in Chemical Sciences, she has spent most of her career in the entity, assuming roles of responsibility. Among her main achievements is the leadership of the entity’s operations and innovation strategy, as well as the 2024-2026 strategic plan.