Recycling Center of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires (Ciudad), Argentina
The Buenos Aires Recycling Centre presents an innovative, holistic solution to waste management developed and administered by the city government.
Every year, Buenos Aires residents are exposed to tens of thousands of tonnes of localised CO2 emissions associated with the collection and treatment of the city’s waste. In 2015, the city government of Buenos Aires, in line with its commitment to reduce the amount of waste buried in landfills and to promote the reutilization and recycling of materials opened the Recycling Center of Buenos Aires. The Center consists of five treatment plants, 2 green centers and an education center. The Education Centre demonstrates the different technologies associated with the recovery of recyclable materials and is the first center for the promotion of recycling and education in Argentina.
Background and objectives
The Recycling Center is a project administered by the Treatment and New Technologies Directorate-General of the Under-secretariat of Urban Hygiene within the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of the Buenos Aires City Government.
The Directorate was created in order to abide to the “Zero Waste Law” (Law n° 1.854/05) in 2012. Since then, its mission has been to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills through the treatment of different fractions generated in the city.
The Recycling Center is located within the Villa Soldati neighborhood, in the south of the city. It occupies a space of 6.2 hectares where a waste burning facility, built in the late 70s was closed without ever being used and was then replaced by the CEAMSE landfill. The Center now receives more than 6,000 tons of different types of urban solid waste each day.
The construction of the Recycling Center was carried out following the guidelines of law n° 1.854/05, also known as the local “Zero Waste Law”. This law’s purpose is to establish a series of guidelines, principles, obligations and responsibilities for an integral treatment of solid urban waste generated within the City of Buenos Aires in a healthy and environmentally friendly manner. Furthermore, it sets the guidelines for reducing the amount of recyclable material that ends in landfills by separating, recovering and recycling waste at origin.
The Recycling Center includes 5 specialized waste treatment plants:
- The first plant to be constructed was finished in 2013 and deals specifically with construction and demolition waste/debris. This plant receives 2.400 tons of arid waste per day, which means roughly 700 trucks full of waste entering the facility each day.
- The PET plastic bottle treatment plant has the capability to process 16 tons of bottles per day and generates plastic shards that can be used to make new products.
- The organic waste treatment plant deals with approximately 20 tons of material which is later used as fertilizer and manure.
- The forestry treatment plant handles between 80 and 100 tons per day of organic forestry related residue that is generated by pruning.
- The MRF (Material Recovery Facility) handles the treatment of dry waste collected by Urban Recovery Cooperatives. It has an efficiency rate far superior to other recovery facilities around the city. While other facilities process 8 tons of waste per hour, the MRF has the capacity to process up to 10 tons of waste per hour. Besides having a bigger treatment capacity, these machines can recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic with a higher quality and with a far superior selection process.
The Center also houses an education center that is visited primarily by schools as well as universities, NGOs, private enterprises and government agencies. Its main purpose is to raise awareness of recycling, recovery reutilization and composting. Visitors walk through all 5 plants via a series of interconnected walkways that have lookout points from where you have a full view of each plant. After the end of each tour students can participate in art workshops related to the things they’ve learned on the tour.
Financing and resources
Buenos Aires city Government is the lead agency for the project. The Centre consists of 5 treament plants, 2 Green Centers and 1 Education centre with a total investment of $USD 120 million dollars. All plants have been financed by the city (with the exception of the construction and demolition waste plant that was privately financed). The city pays a tipping fee to each plant for the amount of waste it processes (or recovers, depending on the plant) and the company that manages each plant derives income due to the selling of the material it produces.
Results and impacts
The impact of the Recycling Center is significant as it helps to reduce the transport of waste to landfills, thus lowering the generation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane and overall has reduced the cost of treating waste considerably.
Barriers and challenges
The Recycling Center is located in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The city government has worked with residents explaining each step of the process in order to avoid any negatives response to the Centre. Preventative measures have been taken such as installing forestry barriers, sprinklers and green doors in order to mitigate any possible adverse environmental effects.
Lessons learned and transferability
To maintain positive relationships between the city, the Centre and neighborhood residents, visits from neighbors are encouraged so that they can learn how the plants function and what kind of work is being carried out. These visits are crucial to help avoid the “Not in My Backyard” effect.