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Spain assesses use of municipal waste in cement plants

Published by
World Cement,

Material recycling and energy recovery of waste in cement plants in Spain prevented the dumping of 2.3 million t of waste in 2015, an amount that could fill with 700 Olympic pools. This data is included in the latest update of the report on "Recycling and recovery of waste in the cement industry in Spain", prepared by the Cerdà Institute and presented today in Barcelona by the Cement and the Environment Foundation (CEMA Foundation).

For the first time, the study makes a detailed comparative analysis of the costs of municipal waste management in landfill, both by autonomous communities, as well as by European countries. In this sense, Spain, with an average cost of €46.2/t "is still very far from other countries in our environment, such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, or Austria, where landfills have virtually disappeared and whose rates duplicate or even triple the Spaniards’, "explained the Managing Director of the CEMA Foundation, Dimas Vallina, during the presentation.

"The introduction of deterrent charges to the landfill of waste is the most effective way to improve recycling rates and to convert non-recyclable waste into resources, in line with the EU's circular economy policies. We must not forget that the fermentation of organic matter produces methane, a gas 25 times more harmful than CO2 in the advance of global warming, "he added.

Of the 33 cement plants in Spain, 29 are authorised for the use of fuels prepared from waste. In 2015, the Spanish cement industry recovered energy from 749 372 tonnes of waste, thus avoiding the emission into the atmosphere of 705 000 t of CO2 equivalent, a volume similar to that captured annually by 141 000 wooded hectares.

The percentage of energy substitution of fossil fuels for waste in the Spanish cement industry thus reached 23.4%, a figure far removed from that obtained by other countries, such as Austria (75.1%), Germany (64.6%), or Belgium (50%).

The Communication from the European Commission on Circular Economy, presented by a rapporteur of the Commission throughout the day, states that "when waste cannot be avoided or recycled, in most cases, from the environmental point of view as well as an economic one, it is preferable to recover their energy content instead of depositing them in landfills. " The cement industry plays a key role in this new paradigm of circular economy, taking advantage of the calorific value of non-recyclable waste.

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