Industrial and municipal solid waste management and treatment

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Gestión y tratamiento de los residuos industriales y sólidos urbanos

The industrial sector is one of Spain's main economic engines, but, on the other hand, it is also the sector that generates the most waste. For this reason, and in order to care for our environment, companies are increasingly concerned about the management and subsequent treatment of the waste they generate during their activity, which is a priority task in many cases.

But it is not only industrial companies that generate harmful waste. As a study by the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition indicates, each of us generates some 467 kg of solid urban waste, in other words, household waste (organic waste, cardboard, paper, wood, glass, plastic, metals, etc.).

We are going to explain what the management and treatment of both types of waste consists of.

The management of industrial waste in Valencia is the same as in the rest of the autonomous communities: it must be kept, as a priority, in optimum conditions until it is handed over to an authorized waste manager.

Its treatment is mainly based on the following steps: collection, transport, treatment and recycling. In addition, depending on the type of waste, specific procedures are carried out:

  • Physical, chemical and biological treatments, to transform the waste into less harmful waste for landfill or use as raw material.
  • Incineration, although it depends on the type of waste (if it is toxic it cannot be incinerated because it can release harmful gases).
  • Dumping, previously ensuring that it does not pollute water or release any type of gas or toxic product.

But not all companies can manage their waste, so they contract companies such as Trans Sabater to help them with authorised waste management. In this case, the company or authorised person can carry out the following tasks:

  • Collection (by means of containers, compactors, lorries...). In this aspect we distinguish:
  1. Non-selective collection: ALL waste is collected.
  2. Selective collection: waste is collected according to ITS TYPE.
  • Transport. Waste is transferred to a sorting or treatment plant for treatment or disposal.
  • Sorting. Waste is sorted according to its composition.
  • Treatment. Once the material has been sorted it can be shredded or washed.
  • Valorisation. This consists of obtaining a new value from the material after applying a recovery process.
  • Disposal. All materials that cannot be recovered or valorised are disposed of by a safe process.

For its part, the treatment of solid urban or domestic waste is usually much better known than industrial waste, but this does not mean that it is simpler.

According to official data, as in the rest of Spain, in the Valencian Community there is no precise and systematic information on the quantities of domestic waste generated, as the data is highly variable and depends on various factors (such as the standard of living and way of life, the time of year, population mobility, etc.).

The good news is that, over the past year, waste production in Valencia has fallen by 6.98% compared to 2019, increasing waste separation and recycling figures by 21%. By fractions, packaging is recycled 81.33% more than five years ago; paper and cardboard, 69.37%; bulky waste, 48.35%; and glass, 8.32%.

Classification of municipal solid waste:

  • Organic waste: those that are biodegradable, so they can quickly disintegrate transforming into another type of organic material (food, fruit peels, vegetables, natural fabrics) to later become natural fertilisers or compost.
  • Inorganic waste: these cannot degrade naturally, as they are of non-biological or industrial origin, although they can decompose very slowly (metals, plastic packaging, glass, glass, plasticised cardboard, batteries, textiles, cleaning products, etc.).

Solid urban waste management process:

  1. Production: any activity that produces this type of waste.
  2. Collection: collection of household waste for transport to a treatment plant. Again, as with industrial waste, a distinction is made between general collection (regardless of the type of waste) and selective collection (collected by prior sorting).
  3. Transport: to the station where the waste will be treated, by means of authorised and specialised vehicles.
  4. Treatment: solid waste can be subjected to processes that produce technical, operational, economic and environmental benefits, through operations carried out in treatment plants for its proper conditioning, valuation and disposal.

Solid waste can be subsequently incinerated, recycled or transformed into compost.

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