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LIFE IN SPAIN

EXPLAINED: How to get rid of old furniture and appliances in Spain

Although you may see some fly-tipping in rural Spain, there is a system in place to safely - and legally - dispose of your old furniture and appliances free of charge. Here's what you need to know.

junkyard spain
Here's how to properly get rid of all your old junk in Spain. Photo: Camille Villanueva/Unsplash

What is a punto limpio?

Puntos limpios (or clean points, in English) are facilities where household waste is collected and stored temporarily, free of charge, either due to its size or potential danger, and therefore cannot be put into the public rubbish containers on the street. There are around 2000 puntos limpios across Spain, with Catalonia having the most, and Castilla la Mancha in second. On average there are 24,445 inhabitants per punto limpio across Spain.The main types are:

Fixed puntos limpios

Probably closest to what is known in some parts of the world as a ‘tip’, fixed punto limpios are larger sites on the outskirts of urban areas.

Mini or neighbourhood puntos limpios

Usually located closer to residential areas, they are smaller and more accessible, but therefore don’t accept all types of waste like the larger fixed sites do.

Mobile puntos limpios

Collection trucks that serve a district or neighbourhood.

Where is my nearest punto limpio?

Spanish consumer watchdog Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) has a handy search engine where you can find puntos limpios across Spain. Find it here. 

What are the regulations?

Puntos limpios are regulated: they will be signposted and easily identifiable, with opening hours, and be easily accessible for vehicles. The sites must be kept clean, and you must not leave debris on the floor.

All puntos limpios must identify each deposit area, and which type of waste must go there, and there should be a member of staff to assist users. Crucially, puntos limpios are free – do not pay anything to anyone (staff or otherwise) who offer to get ride of something for you for a fee. 

Electronic devices

For electronics, you should first consider if they still work, and prioritise reusing or recycling them if so. If they aren’t in working condition, they must be deposited in specific areas for electronics clearly identified on the site.  

What can I bring to a punto limpio?

Simply put, puntos limpios are for all household waste that cannot be discarded into public trash points, but only from individuals or households and not industrial waste. 

Many people discard batteries, electrical appliances, paint residues, oils (both kitchen and motor), halogens or fluorescent lamps, furniture and other bulky objects, aerosols and chemicals, medicines, debris, junk, and mattresses, among others.

At each punto limpio, there should be a member of staff there to advise on what is and isn’t acceptable, and where to deposit it.

What should I avoid?

Note that not all puntos limpios accept the same objects, so it is advised to look into the rules at your local point. You can do this at the town hall or by talking to staff at your nearest site. Banned materials include organic waste, radioactive materials, infectious waste, tires, and explosive materials.

What happens to my waste?

Puntos limpios are important component in Spain’s recycling system. Most of the waste that is collected is then moved to existing recycling facilities. Stuff that cannot be recycled is treated or disposed of.

What happens if I don’t use a punto limpio for my waste?

Be careful, the consequences of flytipping can be severe: failure to dispose of household waste at punto limpios can result in a fine of up to 30,000.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.

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