The COTEC Foundation for Innovation is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to promote innovation as a driver of economic and social development. COTEC has nearly 100 members, including private companies and regional and local administrations. H.M. King Felipe VI is the Honorary President. Since 2001 there is also COTEC Italia, and since 2003, COTEC Portugal, which give an international character to the impulse to innovation promoted by COTEC.
The Technological Institute of Aragon ITAINNOVA hosted on 12 December 12 2023 the presentation of the COTEC report on Circular Economy, with contributions from the Aragon Government’s Director General of SMEs and Autonomous Communities, Ana Sanz, and COTEC President Cristina Garmendia.The President of COTEC and its General Director have highlighted the knowledge and perception of the concept of Circular Economy in Aragon, above the national average.
In the subsequent round table, Luis Giménez, one of the authors of the Report, has stressed that the positive evolution of some of the indicators included in the COTEC Report allows us to be optimistic about the implementation of the Circular Economy in Spain, but only in a moderate way.
The event was closed by the General Director of SMEs and Autonomous of the Government of Aragon, responsible for the Aragon Circular Program, who referred to the participation of the Government of Aragon from its General Directorate in the RESOURCE project along with other entities of the Community such as CEEIARAGON and AITIIP that were also present at the event. RESOURCE is a project led by Aragon that seeks to obtain private investment for circular economy projects.
Circular Economy Report
In 2021, the percentage of total material to be covered by recovered material (circular use of materials) in Spain was 8.9%, one percentage point lower than in 2019 (10%). This figure has placed Spain behind countries such as Germany (12%), France (18.5%) or the Netherlands (28%) and far from the 23% target set by the European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan for 2030. These are data from the biennial circular economy report that the COTEC Foundation for Innovation has been publishing since 2017. The study analyzes the evolution and current situation of this model of production and consumption in Spain and compared to Europe.
Although the IV COTEC Report on Circular Economy maintained the alert of the stagnation of the last years of the circular transition, it has highlighted significant improvements since the implementation of the 2020 National CE Strategy and places Spain among the leading countries of the circular economy in the EU. In this sense, the report emphasized that, despite a favorable resource productivity indicator, there were challenges in recycling and waste management.
The recycling rate in Spain in 2021 was 37%, far from the 50% target set by the European Commission for 2020 and 55% of municipal waste recycling generated by 2025. This figure has placed the country below the EU-27 average (49.6%) and far from benchmark countries such as Germany (71%) or Finland (58%).
Regarding waste treatment in Spain, landfilling of waste in 2021 was 52%, two percentage points less than in 2019, but still a figure far from the target set by the EU: not to exceed 10% in 2035. In the EU as a whole, this indicator decreased by 50% between 2000 and 2021, but increased the percentage of incineration, from 16% to 29%.
As a novelty in this fourth edition, the report has devoted a section to the study of urban environments and collects twenty cases of good practices of Spanish and European municipalities. Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuenlabrada, Gijón, Madrid, Málaga, Murcia, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zaragoza were some of the cities highlighted in COTEC’s work.
COTEC, a pioneering organization in promoting the circular economy
COTEC has been a pioneering organization in Spain in promoting the circular economy. In 2017, it organized an international summit on the subject, which brought together heads of state, politicians and entrepreneurs from three European countries, in addition to publishing an informative video that has nearly three million views on its YouTube channel alone. The report presented that afternoon has been a reference in circular economy and the three editions add up to more than 18 thousand downloads on the COTEC website.
The COTEC Survey of social perception of innovation collects every year a question about the knowledge of the term circular economy. In its latest edition, from 2022, 50% of the more than 7,000 respondents have declared themselves familiar with the concept, well above the 11.4% of 2017.