Urban Solid Waste: A Proposal to Replace Sanitary Landfills

Universidad Nacional de La Plata - Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo

March 15, 2010 |


Urban Solid Waste: A Proposal to Replace Sanitary Landfills


A group of researchers of the UNLP presented the Integral Management of Urban Solid Waste Project. Among other benefits the proposed model implies to ensure an adequate urban hygiene and environmental quality and minimize the negative effects for health and environment associated to the management of waste. In this way, it provides an alternative to replace sanitary landfills, such as the Ceamse. The presentation had an informative purpose about the final paper contents.

Experts and professionals of the UNLP and the Regional School La Plata of the National Technological University presented the final paper of their work to the Capital Region Mayors. The study took almost one year of evaluations and analyzes of the region’s environmental problem to contribute with an integral solution to the treatment and disposal of the home waste of the area.

La Plata’s universities were called by the mayors of the Capital Region Consortium, formed by the municipalities of La Plata, Ensenada, Brandsen, Berisso and Punta Indio, to define the technological system and the places potentially apt for its location with what will be replaced the sanitary landfill of the Ceamse of Punta Lara, where the municipalities throw their home waste. In the elaboration of the paper there were specialists from the Schools of Architecture, Exact Sciences, Economic Sciences, Agronomy, Natural Sciences, Veterinary, Medicine, Engineering, Social Work and Journalism.

Among the relevant points of the exposition, it was exposed the critical situation in which it is the management of the Urban Solid Waste (USW). The “traditional model” of the Ceamse is in crisis by the lack of physical space and the unfavorable public opinion. The new regulatory framework gives the possibility of implementing a new integral management of the USW. That is the reason why it is necessary to develop an alternative model. In this way, there is a new opportunity to assume the responsibility of managing the USW.

The situation of the Urban Solid Waste (USW) in the Capital Region is at a crossroads: it produces 750 tons per day of USW; a 90% of which is generated at the central area (La Plata, Berisso and Ensenada) and the majority goes to the Ensenada’s landfill (about to be closed). The cost of the final disposal for the four municipalities is of 15 millions of pesos per years, of whom only the 20% is paid, as the system is subsided. The cost of taking the USW to North III –the only landfill available- would be of 30 millions of pesos per year (transport). The recovering of USW can generate 29 millions of pesos per year.

One of the results of the study favored the elaboration of a strategic proposal for the Integral management of the USW of the Capital Region (GIRSU-RC). The plan has three basic components: technical/economic; institutional/social; and territorial. “The USW of the Capital Region are managed by their own municipalities in an integral form inside the region with an active participation of the community and the support of the provincial and national governments with a social inclusion formalized of the operators in every and each stage of the waste’s management cycle. The proposal implies the use of strategies and effective technologies that internalize the environmental and social costs, ensure an adequate urban hygiene and environmental quality (local and regional) for now and future generations, minimize the harmful effects for the health and the environment associated to the management of USW in the frame of the actual regulations and a management model open and transparent”.

Six alternative models were evaluated (according to economic, technological, legal, social and environmental criteria) and it was selected a scheme for the Central Region that comprises two models; one for the central area and another one for the periphery. The model for the first (La Plata, Berisso and Ensenada) has 15 Municipal-Urban Recovery Centers for the management of the recoverable waste (green bag); a Transference Station that makes easier the transport of the remaining USW (black bag) to an Integral Center of Treatment and Final Disposal located in the Central Region. This center has an USW’s separation plant that counts with the equipment for the treatment of the organic part (biodigestion + composting) of the recoverable part and inert tests or security filling for the elimination or final disposal of the remaining USW (rejected, dangerous).

The model for the periphery (BR and PI) has a Municipal- Urban Recovery Center for the management of the recoverable waste (green bag) and equipment for the treatment of the organic fraction (biodigestion + composting), whereas the rejected part is sent to the regional Integral Center of Final Disposal and Treatment.

The comparative analysis of the operation and investment costs, as well as the potential improvements of the model evidence the benefits of the proposal: the complete scheme (central model + periphery) has a total cost of 115 millions of pesos, with similar operative costs tan a traditional model and the following advantages: lower transport costs (USW is recovered at the beginning of the circuit); direct benefits by the selling of recycled waste; indirect benefits by encouragement to recycling industries (investment and employment); less environmental impact (less environmental passive); less social conflict; more regional permanent employment (500 direct employment in the Municipal-Urban Recovery Center, Transference Station and Integral Center of Final Disposal and Treatment); and benefits for the production of biogas and electricity.

Based on the territorial and regional analysis of the normative urban- territorial aspects (regulation about the use of the soil, subdivision, accessibility, distance to educative center, health or intensive production) and natural (hydrogeology, edaphology, protected natural areas, ecology) there were identified five sectors that fulfill the necessary conditions for the location of the Integral Center of Final Disposal and Treatment for the Capital Region.

The social and institutional analysis proposes a management scheme that guarantees the action and social participation to implement the plan: this has a Regional Autonomous Institution (autonomous executive entity) and an Advisory Council that collaborates, advices and solves worries and social expectations. The Advisory Council will be formed by representatives of the civil society, academic entities and technological research centers. It is recommended to initiate the territorial insertion process of the proposed model that will have to incorporate formal instances of information and public participation with the aim of achieving consensus and specify the necessary measures of compensation to the population potentially affected by the location of the future Integral Center of Final Disposal and Treatment.

On the other hand, it is vital to formally consolidate the necessary consensus for the sustainability of the Plan GIRSU-RC, as one of the regional fortresses that avoid or limit eventual decisions regarding the management of the extra regional USW that may involve the Capital Region. For that purpose it is recommended to establish an inter-institutional agreement among the government authorities (local, provincial and national), the NGO and the regional academic institutions about three points: 1) Do not accept or receive waste from any kind external to the Region; 2) Establish mechanisms and formal instances of citizen participation and independent external monitoring that ensure the transparency in the management of the USW; and 3) Implementing in a sustained and progressive form measures that tend to the integral management of the USW, taking as a base the vision proposed for the Plan GIRSU-RC.

Eduardo Spinola
espinola72@gmail.com
Unidad de Prensa de la UNLP
Dirección General de Comunicación Institucional


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