The Secretariat of Sustainability (SS) through the Environmental Management and Operational Safety Office (DGASO) aware of the problems that currently represent the inadequate management of waste makes available to the university community the Institutional Program for the management of waste, which contains the strategies for the integral management of the different types of waste and reduce their generation in all the campuses of the UANL and with that eliminate and / or minimize the negative impacts on the environment, also promoting sustainable practices in the university community and complying with current environmental regulations.
Urban Solid Waste
Urban solid waste is generated at homes, workplaces—as a result of garbage disposal: plastic containers, bottles, cartons, or packages—, household-like establishments or places, and public spaces, as long as it is not considered other type of waste.
In accordance with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT, for its acronym in Spanish) the generation of urban solid increased by 43.8% during 1997 to 2012, going from 29.3 to 42.1 million tons per year. This was clearly a result of urban growth and industry and technology development, as well as changing consuption patterns.
This trend is also evident from 1950 to 2012 where the diary volume of waste generation increased over three times, going from 300 to 990 grams on average. In annual terms, waste generation rose from 301 to 361 kilograms between 1997 and 2012, in other words, it grew on average 3.3 kg per year.
From a public health and environmental perspective waste management will help to mitigate the negative effects on the environment, health, and natural resources. Reuse and recycling are fundamental tasks for preserving the ecosystems through the conversion of waste materials (paper, carton, plastic, and some metals) into reusable materials.
The UANL, in order to raise awareness among its students and staff, started in February 2013 a Program of Separating and Recycling of Waste, in this program, UANL entities are in charge of the separation of wastes through special containers so later, this wastes can be recycled.
In the period February 2013 – December 2017, 394.60 tons of material (aluminum, plastic, paper and cardboard) have been collected, which has represented important environmental benefits such as 6,007 trees not cut, 1,348 tons of CO2 not emitted into the atmosphere and 1,072 m3 of sanitary landfill not used, among others.
However, it is necessary to continue promoting the reduction of the generation of the RSU in all the UANL campuses for which the following recommendations are presented which are intended to be adopted in all UANL dependencies:
- Apply the principle of reuse of materials in all cases where possible (for example, using paper on both sides) before discarding.
- Use email to send communications, memoranda, invitations and documents to avoid printing documents.
- Use bulletin boards or bulletin boards to avoid sending paper communications.
- Print in draft quality, to avoid the waste of ink and facilitate reuse on both sides of the paper.
- Edit or correct documents on the computer and not on paper, this will help to reduce the generation of paper.
- Donate books and magazines that you do not want to keep or exchange them with other schools.
- Promote the use of earthenware to reduce the use of disposable products in offices, meetings and conferences.
- Migrate to an electronic document management system or use platforms such as email (Outlook) in which you can schedule meetings, conferences, events in a formal way, sending reminders of the appointment or event to all participants and request confirmation of reading .
- Replace the consumption of bottled water instead have a thermos or reusable personal container, which can be filled by a dispensing system.
- In the cafeterias promote the sale of soft drinks in returnable glass bottles, likewise use earthenware instead of plates and disposable cups.
Special Handling Waste
1. Electronic Waste
Special handling waste is any production-generated residual material that is not considered urban solid or hazardous waste. For instance, electronic waste, 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, those materials may be accidentally released when the devices are disassembled, representing a threat to human health and the environment.
Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, through the Vice Presidency of Sustainability, seeks to raise awareness among the university and the general public by implementing an annual electronic recycling campaign to promote and ensure the proper disposal of such waste. During the last campaign in November 2017, significant environmental benefits were achieved: 29.19 metric tons of electronic waste were collected, saving 689,066 kWh of electric power and reducing CO2 emissions by 107.8 metric tons.
2. Organic Waste
Organic waste treatment has become more important due to the extent of the problem that arises from the increasing generation of this waste and the use of expensive chemical fertilizers, which not only contaminate the environment, but also represent a health risk for users and general consumers.
The UANL School of Agronomy carries out a project for the use and management of livestock waste (manure) and prunings (garden waste) at its facilities in Marin, Nuevo Leon. This waste undergoes the process of vermicomposting to obtain about 700 kilograms of earthworm humus (vermicompost) and 1,000 liters of fulvic acid leachate that are used to fertilize the gardens, plant nurseries, and experimental crops in the different campuses.
3. Waste Oil from Cafeterias
The main cause of water pollution is the uncontrolled disposal of waste from animal and vegetable fats and oils used during food preparation, leading to major problems like pipeline blockage, bad smells, and pest proliferation in drains and sewers. Several UANL entities collect the waste oil from their cafeterias in special containers; such waste is later collected and disposed of by a specialized company.
4. Hazardous Waste
According to the General Law for Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes, a hazardous waste is any solid, semisolid, liquid or gaseous material whose owner has disposed of in containers and it can be assessed or undergo treatment or final disposal. It also contains at least one of the CRETIB properties (corrosive, reactive, explosive, toxic, flammable, biological and infectious).
The SS through the DGASO is developing a program for the management and disposal of hazardous waste (RP) generated in all the academic and administrative units of the UANL, so that classification and collection procedures were distributed in all the dependencies. of waste which will serve as the basis for each and every one of the agencies to prepare their manual for the environmentally adequate management of the waste generated in all university campuses. An important advance in this area represents that 12 units have already adopted within their activities such procedures and product of this systematic work during the period January-December 2017 were managed 306.65 tons of hazardous waste, of which 190.45 tons correspond to biological hazardous waste infectious diseases (RPBI) and 116.2 tons of hazardous waste of chemical origin according to current environmental regulations.
Another important point in waste management is to obtain registration as a generator of RP before the SEMARNAT, based on the average estimate of hazardous waste generated in a year, during the period January-December 2017, fifteen university agencies carried out the procedures before this federal agency and already have their Environmental Registration Number (NRA) with the support and advice of the DGASO to carry out this procedure.