Recycling equipment for greenhouse waste

EMSA Maquinaria y Proyectos, the new exclusive nationwide dealer in Spain for JENZ, the German manufacturer of biomass processing equipment, Wood chippers and wood recycling equipment, has delivered a fourth greenhouse waste recycling unit to Grupo Lirola in El Ejido (Almeria, Spain).

Empresa Ejido Medio Ambiente S.A. was founded in 2001 as the result of a merger between Técnicas Medioambientales Tecmed S.A. and a group of local companies operating in the waste collection and transport sector.

Tecmed was set up in 1993 to manage an Agricultural Waste Composting Plant in Paraje Chozas de Redondo, in the municipality of El Ejido. At this initial plant management stage, Tecmed only treated vegetable waste from the intensive farming sector in the area.

The agricultural sector in the area began to produce a number of previously untreated waste streams, mainly inorganic waste. For this reason, when Ejido Medio Ambiente S.A. (EMA) took over the management of the Composting Plant, treatment was extended to cover these new waste streams, though the main activity of the facility continued to be aerobic composting of agricultural waste. Because of the need to treat a greater quantity of waste, including some inorganic waste, the facilities had to be extended. A number of extensions took place over the years, bringing the total surface area of the plant to 139,912 m2.

The facility is currently undergoing further expansion, to a total of 189,551 m2 and the number of waste types treated has also increased. The plant is now authorised to treat 30 different waste types (EWC codes) belonging to 5 different groups.

This latest extension is not due solely to the increase in the quantity of waste treated. In parallel to the agricultural waste recycling and recovery services undertaken by EMA in recent years, the company is also carrying out a number of research projects, with a view to availing of the waste and by-products from the composting processes.

These research projects are being carried out in cooperation with other enterprises and organisations, including the University of Seville, the University of Almeria, Cajamar, and Holcim, amongst others. The objectives of these projects include facilitating energy recovery from vegetable waste and from the by-products of composting and treatment processes, as well as achieving soil enhancement for reforestation and the treatment of poor quality soils. Meanwhile, the main research line seeks to enhance waste treatment to enable other products to be obtained and also to introduce new waste treatment processes that would serve to broaden market options.

All this has led to an improvement in the composting process to enable the waste from this process to be converted into other by-products that can be reused in the production process, in line with the objectives of the circular economy. The leachate is processed in a facility located alongside the plant, where liquid fertiliser is obtained for reuse on farms. Composting has been optimised and reject volume is now less than 8% of the composted mass. Not only is compost obtained but subsequent screening enables the separation of other products, which can then be treated and reused as raw materials in the production process. Special mention must be given to raffia, a polymer fibre used in extensive agriculture to string plants. Until recently, raffia had to be disposed of in landfills because it was impossible to recover. Following our process enhancements, it is now possible to separate the raffia so that, subsequent to additional treatment, it can be reinserted into the secondary raw materials market.

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Roberto Drumond, Technical Sales Department EMSA MAQUINARIA

Article published in: FuturENVIRO #32 July-August 2016