The Puntos Limpios (recycling centres) are a vital element of Lanzarote’s waste management. We spoke to José Ramón Betancor Bonilla, manager of the Punto Limpio at Arrecife, about how the island deals with plastics and other waste.
What happens to the plastic waste that you receive?
It’s all taken to Zonzamas recycling facility, where its packaged up and transported to a waste management centre in Alicante, on the Spanish mainland.
Do you know what happens to it then?
That’s the responsibility of the Spanish state. We’re just one link in a chain that starts in everybody’s home. We’ve recently heard that China has refused to take more plastic waste, and are waiting to see how this affects waste management in Spain.
What are the most polluting plastic items, do you think?
The heavy plastic wrapping that covers pallets of goods when they arrive on the island. Other plastics float, but these sink and cause all sorts of problems, not just with wildlife, but in fishing nets.
How many Puntos Limpios are there on Lanzarote?
Currently there are four: in Arrecife, in Tías, in Playa Blanca and in Güime. We’re expecting another to open in Costa Teguise later this year, and there are two more waiting to be approved in Haría and Tinajo.
It’s not just plastic you accept, is it?
Not at all. We have large skips for building rubble, scrap metal, wood, old furniture and gardening waste. We take old fridges and electrical appliances, and there are special zones for tyres, aerosols, batteries, paint, toxic substances, vegetable oil, clothes, printer cartridges, X-ray sheets, neon lights, and of course glass, plastic and paper. The only thing we don’t take is old medicaments – you need to take those to the hospital or your local health centre.
This Punto Limpio is surprisingly attractive for what’s basically a rubbish dump.
We try and keep them looking smart, with plants and flowers on the grounds, and if we find a statue or an ornament in the waste, we might put it on display as well. There’s no reason why these places have to be ugly, after all, our job is to clear up the island -and we also have to work here!
When are the Puntos Limpios open?
We’re open from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and we also open on Sundays until 2pm. It’s important that we’re not just open in normal working hours, because working people need to find the time to come to us.
And they need to know you exist, too.
Absolutely. This is a free service for anyone on the island. We don’t want to put out thousands of leaflets because that would only be adding to our job, but it’s important that people know we’re here and whatever waste problems you have, we can help.