October 7, 2022
The Balearic Islands economy is based on tourism and with an increasing demand on resources as more people move to the islands, the Balearic Government looked ot reduce waste, rather than increase waste processing or allocate more space for landfill.
The Balearic Islands economy is based on tourism and as tourism and an increasing demand on resources as more people move to the islands and as early as 2016 the Government established a waste prevention team under the leadership of Sebastia Sanso.
In 2017 a Greenpeace Spain report highlighted the problem that 96% of the floating litter in the Mediterranean Sea is plastic, making the Mediterranean Sea is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world.
The remit of the waste prevention team was to fight against the excessive production of waste, accentuated in our islands, having tourism as an economic engine, and also avoiding the impact of single-use products, especially plastic, on our sea and our terrestrial ecosystems.
Working across multiple NGOs, companies, organizations, etc. to formulate a strategy to emphasize the prevention and reuse of waste. Curiously, even HP made positive contributions to the process.
The outcome was a waste law that emphasized the prevention and reuse of waste, and the law was approved at the beginning of 2019. Among many prohibited single use items, article 24.1.b) of the law said that from the 1st of January 2021 the distribution and sale of “non-reusable and non-refillable versions of printer and photocopier cartridges and toners” is prohibited.
Apart from a ban on single-use cartridges, the islands have banned the sale of single-use plastics, including plastic cups, plates, cutlery, straws, and bags, as well as wet wipes, disposable lighters and razors, cotton swabs made of plastic, and non-recyclable coffee capsules. Non-compliance of these measures could lead to penalties between €300 ($326) and €1,7 million ($1.8 million).
According to Sanso, “In waste prevention in general, our lines of action to promote this change are multiple, from monitoring compliance with our law, accompanying and advising the agents involved (companies, administrations, entities), carrying out communication campaigns, having several lines subsidies to public and private entities to make the change possible, etc.”
Against that background, the waste prevention team “were surprised when, thanks to the collaboration of the General Directorate of Consumption, some inspections were carried out, and it was verified on several occasions that this article was not complied with. In fact it was so obvious that “single use cartridges” were written on the boxes.”
“Consequently, we processed the sanctioning file based on the inspection records, considering this non-compliance as serious according to the law. In addition to the economic sanction, [of €50,000] an important aspect to take into account is that it is given a period of 3 months to remove from the Balearic market all those items that do not comply with our regulations.”
The waste prevention team does not have specific data regarding the quantities/weight of toner and inkjet cartridges consumed in the Balearic Islands in 2020 and 2021. An action point they are working on is to establish transparency systems in relation to data on waste and products placed on the market.
Sanso and his team “carried out a pioneering study to be able to promote a change in the place model in the regional administration that can serve as an example in other areas. We have detected, among other things, an underutilised fleet of printers.”
Our take on this: It is good to see the level of research that has been done quantify the problem and then to address the solutions. Solutions that will, at all levels drive change. Not just consumer change, but with multinationals as well. The challenge for printer OEMs is do you jump, or do you wait to be pushed? And are single use cartridges in subscriptions programme’s a sustainable alternative? Not is our book!
Editor: Our thanks to Sebastia Sanso and his team for the insights that we have and translated for the article.
Categories : World Focus