Sustainability policies in Barcelona municipal markets



Policy type

Unleash the potential of citizens and social economy organizations

Sector focus

Municipal markets

Circular principle

Pursue efficient use of materials, energy, and water


After finding that excessively high volumes of fresh food waste were going to landfill,  as early as 1997 Barcelona introduced a waste separation model so that waste was split into organic material (food waste) and non-organic material.

To encourage recycling, the Council also developed complementary initiatives, such as specific regulations, an awareness-raising plan for traders and a logistical layout plan.

The different markets in the municipal network have also implemented different initiatives – such as centralised collection of batteries and campaigns for the collection of used clothing in markets – to stimulate a culture of recycling and sustainability among consumers.



During 2010 and 2011 Barcelona’s markets ran two campaigns to reduce plastic bag usage. 400,000 reusable bags were distributed and early estimates suggest that the reduction in plastic bag usage has been as high as 30 million. In the period from 2001 to 2012, 28% less waste was produced in Barcelona’s markets. The percentage of recycled waste has also maintained an upward trend: from 20% in 2002 to more than 40% in 2012.


‘Cooking by making the most of food’

‘Cooking by making the most of food’ uses workshops and theatrical events to highlight how food is wasted in households and the consequences of this waste. It introduces new food habits and promotes good practice in preventing the generation of waste when shopping and cooking.

Shortening the supply chain

Barcelona has introduced local legislation and tax incentives to support local producers wishing to sell their produce at the city’s markets and thereby increase the amount of zero km local quality products available.

Energy efficiency and production

Over the last few years Barcelona has delivered a comprehensive programme of energy efficiency and energy production initiatives across the city’s markets. This has included the installation of air conditioning systems using groundwater or geothermal energy as well as the development of a small solar energy plant with photovoltaic panels.



City of Barcelona

Institute of markets (IMMB)



Urbact markets handbook


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