Nowadays there is a great awareness of environmental issues, for climate change, for the conservation of natural and landscape areas. This sensitivity is embedded in a change in consumer behavior, leading to demand for products that respect the environment.
In this sense, Portugal and Spain have developed a plan and environmental program, which largely corresponds to the European Union requirements.
It is well known, in modern society, the importance of all the problems associated with the creation of waste. Thus, concepts such as recovery and recycling are increasingly becoming a reality in the Iberian Peninsula.
Recycling activities are important because through this waste is reprocessed into products, material or substantial reusable. Thus, recycling is the best option for items whose life ended, creating significant additional benefits in terms of reduced consumption of resources (raw materials, energy, impacts on the environment).
The recycling industry is essentially divided in subsectors of the recycling of metals, the recycling of industrial waste (for the production of CDR fuels) and recycling of biomass (for energy production).
As for Portugal, in 2007, the subsector of the recycling of metals reached a production of 196.4 million euros, a total of 163 companies, creating 1 134 jobs, corresponding to a GVA of 63.2 million euros. Already in the Spanish industry, the sector of the recycling of metals is relatively residual, although its importance is increasing in recent years.
In the same year (2007), Spain was the sixth largest European country in the metals recycling business, representing a turnover of 0.25%, generating a production of 1.5472 million euros, a GVA of 249 million of euros. At that time, it totaled 86 companies in this area, creating employment for 3,485 people, representing 0.13% of total employment.
The CDR fuels have variable characteristics according to the waste that constitute them and treatment to which they are subject. The waste constituents are primarily plastics (31%), textiles (14%), paper and paperboard (13%) wood (12%) and others (30%). In Portugal and Spain, the CDR recycling lines are still developing. In the Iberian Peninsula, the main destination of CDR fuels is currently the cement manufacturers, who use it as a main substitute for coke/bun.
Biomass has an important role as an alternative fuel to non renewable fuels and is characterized as being one of the largest indigenous resources that the Iberian Peninsula offers. This environment sector area is directly related to the forestry sector, more specifically, with the area of production of electricity by collecting biomass. These types of waste are processed in the form of briquettes or pellets ("pellet"), thereby creating products having a high calorific value with application for combustion, thus valuing energy, by burning boiler or other heating structures.The production of electricity from biomass potential is achieved mainly through thermoelectric units using forest biomass. It is also expected a significant contribution of photovoltaic energy to achieve the goals of Portugal and Spain for renewable energy.
Historically, Portugal and Spain have been highly dependent on oil and coal import (they import about 81% and 80% of the energy they consume, respectively) .In recent years, they diversified its energy supply through the transition to natural gas and further development of renewable energy.
The recycling sector is a large field in the environmental sphere in which you wish to recycle a variety of waste in order to value it, either by direct re-use or by transformation into reusable raw materials in the production of other goods.