Special handling waste is any production-generated residual material that is not considered urban solid or hazardous waste, or comes from large urban solid waste generators. According to the General Law for Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes and the Basic Assessment for Integral Management of Wastes (SEMARNAT, 2012) , 84 million metric tons of fourteen types of special handling waste are generated in Mexico each year—e.g., copper, aluminum, tires, construction waste, mud from wastewater treatment plants, among others. Additionally, eight hundred thousand vehicles are disposed of nationwide every year, and these numbers are still on the rise.

Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon carries out a permanent awareness campaign for the university community to promote the proper storage and transportation of special handling waste, preventing the exposure to their hazards.

Electronic Waste

Rapid and short-useful-life innovation is one of the aspects causing an increase in electronic waste. Electrical and electronic devices, such as televisions, cell phones, computers, and appliances, are made up of hundreds of different materials, some of which are valuable like gold, silver, palladium, and copper, or potentially hazardous like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. Without proper disposal and depending on the type of technology, country of origin, and manufacturer, those materials may be accidentally released when the devices are disassembled, representing a threat to human health and the environment.

For instance, leachates are liquids that release toxic substances into the environment, which may permeate the soil and contaminate groundwater with heavy metals, and if people drink it, it can cause some of the following conditions:

• Acute poisoning

• Neurological damages

• Respiratory tract damages

• Cardiovascular conditions

• Liver and kidney damages

• Osteoporosis and bone deformation

• Cancer

• Immune system damages

Mexico is reportedly generating over 350 metric tons of electronic waste every year, according to the quantitative study ‘Analysis, Assessment and Definition of Solution Strategies on Waste from Appliances’ (SEMARNAT, 2010).

Therefore, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, assisted by the Vice Presidency of Sustainability, has implemented a periodic electronic recycling campaign among the university and the general public in order to promote the proper disposal of such waste, which usually remains stored at homes and offices.

In November 2016, UANL conducted campaigns of collection and electronic recycling. During 4 days collections points were established in the different UANL campuses (Ciudad Universitaria, Mederos, Health Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, and Linares campus). 17.74 Tons of electronic waste were collected, the following table summarizes electronic waste collection.

Waste

Percentage (%)

Projection Equipment

46.30

CPU’s and laptop

24.39

Printers and peripherals

18.62

Mobile phones

0.58

Others

10.10

A 95% of wastes were collected at UANL entities and the remaining 5% at private institutions. In addition to the benefits of proper waste handling, the recycling of materials had a positive environmental effect: 418,775 KWh of energy not used and 65.52 Tons of CO2 not emitted into the atmosphere.

                       

Organic Waste

The School of Agronomy, Marin Campus is currently developing a project for the use and management of organic waste generated carried out a project of use and use of waste from livestock (manure) and the use of prunings (garden waste) university campus, which through a process with vermicomposting obtained humus and rich leachate in essential nutrients (fulvic acids), considered as raw material for the production of organic fertilizer, which is used to fertilize crops and gardens experimental university campus.

Every year 1.5 tons of waste are treated which through a process with vermicomposting obtained 700 kg of humus and 1000 liters of rich leachate in essential nutrients (fulvic acids), considered as raw material for the production of organic fertilizer, which is used to fertilize crops and gardens experimental university campus.

Waste management has become more important than ever before, since organic fertilizers are less expensive and have helped lower the use of chemical fertilizers and its polluting effect endangering people and the environment.

The success of this project has led to the idea of starting selling humus or fertilizers in the mid-term. Now it is only being used at University.

 

Vegetable oil residues

Vegetable oil residues are generated on campus from the preparation of food. This residue can contaminate water if not handled properly and cause major problems such as pipelines obstruction, unpleasant odours, and pest proliferation.

UANL promotes collecting oil waste from cafeterias using special containers. Later wastes are recycled and used as biofuels by specialised companies.