Closing the MSW treatment cycle

Cerrando el ciclo de tratamiento de los residuos urbanos

The Spanish Association of Energy Recovery from Municipal Solid Waste (AEVERSU) is a non-profit organisation representing waste-to-energy plants. Its mission is to inform society of the work carried out by these plants, promote the recovery of energy contained in non-recyclable waste so as to give it value, in compliance with current legislation, and to represent and defend the general interests of these facilities. The Association is now entering a new stage with its sights focused on the new European waste management targets.

In one of its most recent communications, the European Commission proposes a waste recycling target of 70% by the year 2030 (compared to the current rate of 42%), and an increase in the reuse of resources contained in this waste of 30%, along with improved energy recovery of the non-recyclable fraction through greater efficiency.

This strategy seeks evolvement from a linear economy, understood as one consisting of extracting resources from the environment, using them, selling them and depositing them in landfills, to a circular economy, the aim of which is to transform resources and avail of them to the full. This involves taking the complete lifecycle into account when designing products so that they can be reincorporated into the commercial chain in the form of new goods or energy.

In parallel, Brussels is considering banning the deposit of recyclable waste in landfills from 2025, making it more necessary than ever to seek management formulas to promote prevention and reuse, the recycling of the bulk of waste and the application of energy recovery to the remainder. This is the only way to reduce the still enormous quantity of waste sent to landfill in Spain (over 60%).

The fact is that recycling and energy recovery are complementary processes that are mutually necessary in order to guarantee rational, sensible and smart waste management in compliance with current legislation.

Article published in: FuturENVIRO October 2014