Automation of Sierra Sur Plant puts province of Jaén in vanguard of waste treatment

The “Jaén-Sierra Sur” Recovery, Composting and Biomethanisation plant is one of two centres managed by Resurja for the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the province of Jaén. Resurja is a mixed company composed of the Jaén Provincial Council and private enterprise Urbaser. Through Resurja, the Jaén Provincial Council provides the MSW management services entrusted to it by the municipal councils in the province.

Resurja is currently responsible for treating all the waste produced in the province’s 97 municipalities. The “Jaén-Sierra Sur” Plant receives the waste collected in 32 municipalities located in the west of the province, including the capital city; a total of around 125,000 tonnes from approximately 325,000 users. The waste generated in the remaining 65 municipalities is treated at another plant located in Linares. These two centres treat non-segregated domestic waste. Source-separated domestic waste deposited by users in the yellow containers is treated at a sorting plant managed by Resurja in Ibros.

The “Jaén-Sierra Sur” plant was inaugurated in 2008. It was designed to avail of the organic fraction of MSW and for the recovery of recyclables not separated at source in households (packaging and paper/board).

In 2018, the plant has been upgraded in order to implement packaging recovery automation technology. There was also some enhancement of the remaining processes at the facility. It is envisaged that the upgrading initiative will increase the quantity of material recovered at the facility by 90%. This will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 14,000 tonnes, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of around 7,000 vehicles.

Recovery of tetra-brick containers will be tripled, while recovery of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high density polyethylene) will be doubled. In addition, paper/board recovery will be increased by 20%.


The waste collected in the different towns, normally during the night, is controlled and weighed at the entrance
to the facility and then deposited in the unloading area, prior to processing, which normally begins the following day. From the unloading area, the waste is fed alternately into two treatment lines, each with a capacity of 25 tonnes per hour, by means of wheel loaders. At the same time, the wheel loader operator carries out preliminary sorting by size, during which exceptionally bulky waste unsuitable for treatment in the lines is deposited in containers and taken to the landfill.

The waste initially goes through primary sorting, in which the bulkiest waste, which might cause problems in the treatment lines, is manually removed. Depending on the nature of this waste, it is sent to the landfill or deposited in containers and subsequently sent to recovery companies. In this case, we are speaking of materials such as scrap (mixed ferrous metals), cardboard, plastic, plastic film and glass.

Prior to the upgrading of the plant, the waste not separated in the two preliminary sorting stages described previously was sent to a two-stage trommel screen, which enabled sorting by size to be effected. The first stage had a passage size of 60 millimetres in diameter and was fitted with spikes to open the refuse bags. The second stage had a passage size of 100 millimetres in diameter. In this way, three fractions were obtained: the material sieved in the first stage, with a size of less than 60 mm, the material sieved in the second stage, with a size of less than 100 mm and a fraction of greater than 100 mm in diameter.

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Plant Report published in: #52 FuturENVIRO July 2018