Visit to the recycling centre
On Friday 15th November nine members of St Andrew’s visited Urbaser, the recycling and sorting plant in Casares to learn more about the processes carried out to sort and manage our waste.
The Church of England´s five marks of mission aims to support, encourage and enable the whole Church of England to pray, speak and act prophetically on environmental issues, which threaten the flourishing of the whole of creation.
“The moral crisis of climate change is an opportunity to find purpose and joy, and to respond to our creator’s charge. Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation.” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
With this in mind Hilary Tompkins kindly organised our trip to the Urbaser Plant on a coach trip which was organised by La Cala De Mijas Ayuntamiento. The Foreigners Department were instrumental in organising the visit. Aranzazu Lopez, the councillor for FRD and the environment initiated it..
Urbaser's broad aim is to process waste so more is recycled and less ends up in landfills, reducing the environmental impact.
The Urbaser plant processes waste from 516,600 inhabitants (rising to 2 million in the Summer) from western Costa del Sol, which comprises of 11 municipalities from Torremolinos to Manilva. This means the treatment of 350,000 tons of waste per year. The plant runs 24 hours a day 365 days a year with a staff of 300.
We arrived on a sunny crisp morning and visited the various processing areas of the plant on the coach.
First, we saw that when a lorry load of general ‘organic’ rubbish arrives large items such as furniture, white goods, computers and electrical items are removed. (These of course should not have been put in the bins but taken to the Punto Limpio). The rubbish then goes through manual, mechanical (including a huge washing type machine) and magnetic processes to remove as much recyclable material as possible.
We all have access to recycling bins but the sad fact is that the other waste bin for ‘organic’ material only contains 5% of organic waste! There is a huge number of items put in these bins, such as glass, plastic and cardboard, that should be placed in the other recycling bins.
The recyclable material extracted is further sorted and compacted into cubes ready to be transported to specialist recycling centres. For instance, there are 6 or 7 types of plastic that have to be separated.
What is left of the ‘other’ waste is divided into organic and none organic.
The non organic is compressed into cubes and behind the plant they are literally building a mountain from it. They are layering cubes, then covering with soil, to build the man-made mountain which has chimneys to release gasses produced by the waste. The waste also produces liquid which is taken away to a specialist plant to purify.
The organic waste is fermented for two months to produce compost. This is then filtered and a further 2% of glass is extracted before being sold.
At the end of the tour we went into the lecture theatre and saw a film further explaining what the plant does, and were able to ask questions.
The feeling from those that attended the visit was that there should be more publicity on what exactly is able to be put into the recycling bins. There is still a lot of confusion about this, in particularly what plastic items are accepted.
This is a very good article with information on what goes in which bin:
350,000 tonnes of waste a year is a huge amount, perhaps we should all examine not only how much we can recycle, but try to cut down on how much we produce, by choosing how we buy our products, how they are packaged, and not buying unnecessary items that end up in the bin! Plastic is a real cause for concern. There are links to interesting articles below.
At the end of our visit we were given a ‘goody bag’ of items that had been created using recycled materials. I hope we all make good use of them and they do not end up back in the waste too soon!
Thank you Hilary for organising this interesting and thought provoking trip.
Facebook group abot recycling in our area:
An interesting article to read:
Article on what goes in which bin
An article regarding Plastic
Urbaser info sheet on Casares Plant
If you would like to watch the video that we watched in the lecture theatre you can find it here (in Spanish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1uI9woaJQ8
Our latest posts on Facebook