German technical cooperation agency GTZ and Swiss construction and materials company Holcim have formed a partnership to co-process solid waste in Costa Rica, GTZ’s technical consultant Sandra Spies told BNamericas.
Through this process, Holcim uses its cement kilns to process solid waste that cannot be processed at traditional landfills, said Spies.
Holcim has carried out feasibility and technical studies for these works together with the municipalities that dispose of their trash in such facilities, as well as citizen surveys to see what kind of educational activities need to be carried out for these projects, added the technical consultant.
Through the partnership, Holcim currently co-processes products such as tires, contaminated plastics and used oil at its cement kilns, but would like to expand its list to include other products as well, Spies said.
The company does not need to build any new kilns to carry out such activities, but can already do it with those currently used to make cement, said the technical consultant, who added that it did, however, have to build pre-processing facilities at its plants, such as a machine to cut tires, as well as facilities to homogenize the oil that is eventually processed.
There is currently an inventory of over 20 materials listed in the national report of material management produced by GTZ and Holcim, which also documents the amount of each of these materials that is collected and treated, Spies said.
The importance of this project, being developed under national competitiveness and environment program Cyma’s public-private partnership (PPP) program, is that it strengthens links between the public and private sectors, added Spies.
"What happens in a lot of countries is the public and private sectors do not communicate much. So, the idea of the PPP was also to improve the dialogue and prepare people in technical areas, as well as to improve the way in which the two sectors communicate," she said.
In addition to Holcim, Mexican cement firm Cemex is also using its facilities in the country to co-process rice hulls, said Spies.
Solid waste treatment through co-processing has also been developed in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico, as well as in Chile, where Holcim subsidiary Polpaico co-processes used oil materials, said the technical director.
Cyma is an alliance between GTZ, as well as Costa Rica’s health ministry, environment and energy ministry Minae, the planning and economic policies ministry, municipal development and evaluation institute IFAM, and the industrial chamber of commerce.