Reduction of its generation, improved treatment and addition of new municipalities


The period 2011-2015 has meant the consolidation of the waste management model established in the PMGRM (Metropolitan Programme of Municipal Waste Management) 2009-2016. This management has been marked by a significant decrease in the generation of municipal waste which started in 2008 and reached levels per capita of less than 1.2 kg/inh/day (426 kg a year) from 2012. It was also defined by the stagnation in the selective collection ratios, specially in reference to the fraction of organic matter. From these data, the AMB has reviewed the PMGRM 2009-16, by introducing new parameters and objectives.

The decline in waste generation is a result of the economic crisis, but it is also true that the citizenship is increasingly concerned about environmental issues, largely due to the efforts of the authorities, specially, town councils. To consolidate this trend, the AMB has made a bigger effort in prevention actions, and has extended its area of management to the municipalities of Cervelló, Corbera de Llobregat and La Palma de Cervelló.

Regarding waste management, it is worth mentioning the achievement of important milestones such as treating all the waste in metropolitan facilities, except for the fraction of road cleaning which, because of its composition, it is sent to a controlled storage depot, and the establishment of a stable waste management scheme based mainly on energy recovery. It also opens the door to new technologies that can treat fractions which, for their uniformity, composition and calorific value, permit it.

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Waste management indicators
The PMGRM 2009-2016 (Metropolitan Programme of Municipal Waste Treatment) is the framework document setting out guidelines for the prevention and management of waste in the metropolitan area.

In order to achieve the agreed objectives and standards, and as planned in the programme, in 2012 the trends in the levels of waste generation, the objectives and the facilities plan were reviewed.

One of the most important objectives established in the programme is the achievement of levels of prevention and treatment of different types of municipal waste, as well as the model of waste management plants, following the hierarchy established by Law 22/2011, which prioritises energy recovery ahead of the controlled storage depot, with the addition of the carbon footprint as a tool to validate the best management.

Regarding the regulatory framework, apart from Law 22/2011, from July 28th, on waste and contaminated soil, it is worth mentioning the amendments introduced by Royal decree 17/2012, from May 4th, which set targets for prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery for the year 2020, and they also set the competencies of local authorities. They also emphasise the adoption, on 20th of November 2013, of the VII General Programme of Environment of the EU which promotes the conversion of the EU in a hipocarbonic economy, efficient in the use of resources, ecological and competitive. With the approval of the PRECAT2020 (General Programme of Waste and Resources and Catalonia), the Government of Catalonia has incorporated the requirements of this seventh Programme.

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Metropolitan programme for municipal waste management 2009-2016 (cat)
Review of the metropolitan programme of municipal waste 2009-2016 (cat)
Office of the Better than New
Office of the "Better than New" programme that hosts self-repair and exchange activities

On the scale of priorities of waste management, prevention ranks first. Consequently, the AMB has expended efforts and resources in different projects and research studies. One of the main priorities was the extension of the Reparat centre of Barcelona and its costumers attention timetable, to respond to the growing demand of citizens wanting to learn how to repair items. During 2015, the exchange market, which can be linked to bulky items reuse, started running.

In the context of the "Repaired, better than new" programme, there is a centre in Viladecans and another one in Sant Cugat, and the number of itinerant self repair workshops has significantly increased. Online resources (videos) have been promoted, together with the presence in social networks and the improvement of the web programme. Information guides have also been published.

A part from this, there has been an increase in exchange and second hand markets, and they have been evaluated, in terms of participation and materials saved. Regarding support for local initiatives, it includes projects of packaging prevention in Tiana and Sant Andreu de la Barca, and drafting of planning tools. There are already 15 municipalities that have a plan for preventing waste and 20 more ones who have drafted the Metropolitan composting plan. The composting network has more than 4,000 participants.

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"Millor que nou" website

Repair workshop
Repair workshop in the "Millor que nou" programme
The period 2011-2015 has meant the consolidation of the map of metropolitan waste treatment plants with the opening of Ecoparc 4, in Els Hostalets of Pierola, thus achieving now 100% treatment of waste.

Besides, in order to keep constant the excellence of treatment, some processes from treatment plants have been improved or extended by incorporating the best currently available techniques. Note the significant renovations carried out in the sorting plants of Gavà and Molins de Rei, as well as the adaptation of the energy recovery plant in Sant Adrià de Besòs so as to treat the remainder fraction.

All together makes a set of facilities prepared to achieve the levels of waste recovery and recycling required in the coming years.
  • Sorting plants
    Machinery of the sorting plant
    Machinery of the sorting plant of Gavà-Viladecans

    The ferrous and plastic packaging of the yellow containers are processed in the sorting plant of Gavà (located in the Metropolitan Waste Treatment Centre), the one that shares the location with Ecoparc 2 and the FIRM sorting plant of Molins de Rei (municipalities assigned to the Minimum Waste model).

    The sorting plant of Gavà has completely been renewed in order to improve the quality of separation and increase treatment capacity to 24,000 annual tonnes.

    The sorting plant of Molins de Rei has also been renovated, both outside and inside, in order to increase the processing capacity up to 8 tonnes/h and to improve the performance of materials recovery. To achieve this, the industrial unit has been expanded and the facilities have been equipped with the latest sorting technologies (optical separators, ballistic separators, film vacuum systems, etc.).

    Works at the sorting plant
    Works at the sorting plant installations of Gavà-Viladecans
  • Bulky items plant
    Also located within the Metropolitan Waste Treatment Centre of Gavà-Viladecans and managed by TERSA, the bulky items plant has significantly been redesigned to achieve an increased processing capacity and a reduced impact on the environment. The main change respect to the old plant is that now the process is closed in an industrial unit (unloading, separation of materials, wood crushing and wooden chip loading), thus avoiding the emission of dust, together with the renewal of machinery to increase their efficiency. The total capacity reaches 80,000 tonnes, with a performance of subproducts recovery about 90% of the processed tonnes.

    Moreover, to cover the management of bulky items generated in large municipalities located in the northwest of the territory, in 2012 the AMB signed an agreement with the Consortium for Waste Management of Vallès Occidental, which has allowed to expand the waste treatment capacity up to 15,000 tonnes.

    The treatment ratio of bulky items compared to those selectively collected has increased from 78.58% in 2011 to 96.95% in 2014.

  • Composting plants
    View of the composting plant
    View of the composting plant of Torrelles de Llobregat

    Both composting plants of the AMB, located in Torrelles de Llobregat and Sant Cugat del Vallès, have included management changes and new machinery to increase their capacity, improve the quality of produced compost and reduce the impact on the environment.
  • Ecoparcs
    Installations of Ecoparc 4
    Installations of Ecoparc 4, in Els Hostalets de Pierola

    The activity in Ecoparc 4, located at Els Hostalets de Pierola, began in 2011 and reached a nominal capacity sufficient to treat 100% of the remainder fraction generated within the territory of the AMB.

    In parallel to the increase of the installed capacity, continuous improvement processes have been carried out in all Ecoparcs in order to optimise operational performance and recovery of materials. The most important actions are:
    • Ecoparc 1: Installation of a line recovery of glass, metals and CSR (solid recovered waste) of MOR (recovered organic matter) sent to composting. Additionally, energy saving measures in the lighting are also being implemented.
    • Ecoparc 2: Installation of a ballistic separator and two double track optical separators, in order to recover packaging of the fraction rolling, and a film vacuum system to recover this material from the planar fraction.
    • Ecoparc 3: Improvement of the film vacuum equipment and improvement of the MOR (recovered organic matter) using an optical system.
    • Ecoparc 4: Installation of additional equipment to recover metals and glass from the rejection fraction by means of overbands, Foucault separators and optical separators.
    These actions lead to an increase in recycled products, as shown in the following graph:

  • Integral Waste Recovery Plant
    Plant located in Sant Adrià de Besòs

    The PIVR (Integral Waste Recovery Plant), managed by TERSA, plays an important role in the development of objectives established in the PMGRM 2009-2016. The process of mechanical-biological treatment of the Remainder fraction has improved the levels of materials recovery by incorporating new technologies. As for energy recovery (PVE), now it is possible to process a large part of the waste generated in treatment plants due to the modification of a large part of their facilities, specially the furnace, the steam circuit and the alternator.

    This major renovation has allowed the PVE to get adapted to the characteristics of the waste from treatment plants, with the aim of preserving the same nominal capacity of treatment; improving the energy efficiency of the plant; increasing the electricity annual production to 200,000 MWh (the nominal electric power of the plant increases in 8MW, from 23,75MW up to 31,76MW); expanding the steam available for the central of heating and cooling generation (steam production grows from 120 tonnes/h to 150 tonnes/h); and thus obtaining a more sustainable waste management, so as to reduce its final disposal.
  • Waste collection and storage depots
    The waste collection and storage depots, or green points, are facilities aimed at the collection of waste which is not specific of the containers located in the streets.

    View of the waste collection
    View of the waste collection and storage depot of Vall d'Hebron, in Barcelona

    The decrease in waste generation has meant a lesser collection rate also in green waste collection points; considering, however, the increasing number of users, the successful implementation of these facilities can be confirmed.

    During the period 2011-2014 a strict separation of recoverable materials such as coffee capsules, butane, CDs and DVDs, no plastic packaging, etc., has been especially developed which led to a reduction of waste generated from 17,903 t/year to 9,460 t/year.

    Moreover, the cooperation agreement between AMB and town councils to locally manage the logistics of the metropolitan waste collection and storage depots has been useful to improve the management of these facilities, while allowing an annual updating of public fees, proposed by the AMB onthe basis of costs actually borne by each of the fractions.
  • Others
    Particularly noteworthy were the works undertaken in the Controlled Storage Depot of Vall d'en Joan, consistent in the maintenance of restored area and the treatment of generated leachates, as well as advances in restoration tasks.

    Overview of the restored area of Vall d'en Joan
    Overview of the restored area of Vall d'en Joan