Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena is to pilot a new range of anti-diving recycling dumpsters in the city to thwart people from stealing materials deposited in the recycling containers.
Madrid City Hall estimates that 47 percent of all material put in the recycling dumpsters is "illegally removed" according to Spanish daily El Mundo.
The anti-diving dumpsters, thought to be the first of their kind in Europe, will be piloted in Madrid from June in the neighbourhoods of Salamanca, Tetuán and Vallecas.
Several prototype dumpsters will be trialled between June and October, when the winning design will be chosen by Ecoembes and Recipap – two of Madrid's rubbish collection companies.
All the prototypes feature a lengthening of the opening of the container to make it harder for people to reach their arms inside.
The dumpsters will be judged according to the criteria of robustness, universality, security and cost.
Much less paper and cardboard has been deposited in Spanish recycling points since the economic crisis hit, according to municipal sources, who point to the fact that families generally produce less waste now than before the crisis.
The practice of dumpster diving also became more noticeable during the economic crisis as people struggled to make ends meet and looked for ways to make some extra cash.
During 2009 more than 78,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard was collected by Madrid's recycling bins but this figure had plummeted 63 percent to 28,000 by 2015.
It is illegal to "remove material that is public property from its corresponding container" and those who do can face fines of between €751 and €1,500 - or even €3000 if they also cause damage to the container itself.