Waste management has a great impact on reducing negative environmental effects. When it comes to the environment and natural resources, reuse and recycling are crucial. It also reduces the use of energy and water during the extraction process and at the same time it minimizes the need for storage.
The recycling and reuse of materials transform waste materials (paper, cardboard, metals, and plastic) into useable resources. Recycling contributes to minimize the production volume of raw materials and preserves natural resources
Management of Solid Urban Waste with recyclable characteristics
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), in Mexico reports that annually are generated 53.1 million tonnes of municipal solid waste according to its latest statement about environmental conditions in Mexico. Under different programs SEMARNAT promotes the proper disposal of domestic solid wastes implementing strategies of training, education, and communication in order to carry out this aim. The Secretariat of Research, Innovation and Sustainability and the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety developed a plan for the management of waste generated in the different UANL campuses with the aim of eliminating and/or minimizing the impacts caused by improper waste handling, thus fulfilling environmental regulations in this matter and promoting environmental care in the university community.
Solid Urban Waste
All solid wastes that are generated from UANL campuses are collected and taken to a transfer station and subsequently will be transported to the landfill site of the System for Ecological Waste Management and Processing (SIMEPRODE in its Spanish acronym), which is located at the municipality of Salinas Victoria and it is managed by the government of the State. Sorting centers for the segregation of recyclable waste and non-recyclable waste are established. Pieces of glass, aluminum, cardboard, paper, plastics and steel are segregated before compacting and being covered with layers of clay and sand. The General Law on Prevention and Management of Waste (LGPGIR in its Spanish acronym) states that a landfill must incorporate good engineering practices within protocols and established procedures to control leakages, and gases, aimed to avoid the dissemination of toxic substances in the subsoil and aquifers.
One way to take advantage of residues is to use biogas as a renewable energy source, which is produced by the breakdown of organic matter. Biogas is conducted through a pipe line and then is turned into electrical energy. This energy is distributed and used in public lighting among seven municipalities of the Monterrey Metropolitan Area and government entities such as Fundidora Park and Metrorrey, this program also favors greenhouse reduction measures.
Waste Separation and Recycling (PROSER in its Spanish acronym)
In February 2013, the Secretariat of Research, Innovation and Sustainability established a waste separation and recycling program (PROSER) at the central administration offices in Ciudad Universitaria Campus (CU) in the ‘Raul Rangel Frias’ University Library and the School of Chemistry. UANL signed an agreement with the COPAMEX Reciclados S.A de C.V. company, so that the recyclable municipal solid waste generated in the central areas other than the Schools and High Schools, are managed through this company.
UANL entities are responsible for waste classification, then COPAMEX collects and processes wastes which in return for the material handled help the schools with 100% recycled paper or with cash, which can be used to the buy containers or for any other activity related to the Program. Once the recycling process is complete, a report including the environmental benefits obtained must be made by the supplier.
Currently, recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, PET, and aluminum, are systematically collected from 20 schools and 5 offices at UANL. These are listed below:
- Center for Research and Development in Bilingual Education
- ‘Pablo Livas’ Industrial and Technical High School
- ‘Alvaro Obregon’ Industrial and Technical High School
- High School No. 1
- High School No. 3
- High School No. 7
- High School No. 8
- High School No. 16
- High School No. 20
- High School No. 23
- High School No. 25
- School of Chemistry
- School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
- School of Accounting and Business Management
- School of Public Health and Nutrition
- School of Communication
- School of Physics and Mathematics
- School of Civil Engineering
- School of Economics
- School of Psychology
- Department of Learning Service and Internships
- ‘Capilla Alfonsina’ University Library
- Department of Scholarships
- Department of Information Technologies
- University Health Center
From February 2013 to June 2017, 285.66 metric tons of recyclable materials were collected and classified as follows:
The management of these materials is supported by companies with vast experience in recyclable waste handling.
The success of PROSER lies in the university community’s commitment to adopt sustainable practices in their daily activities, supporting the preservation of the environment. For example, as part of its mission to accomplish UANL’s social responsibility by integrating students with social, industrial, government, and academic fields to help them gain experience, the Department of Learning Service and Internships carries out the ‘Tigres for the Environment’ campaign that targets students who seek to undertake their mandatory community service. Students are required to collect recyclable urban solid waste—e.g., PET, cardboard, paper, and aluminum—so that recycling habits can be adopted and waste generation can decrease at UANL. Among the several achievements of this activity, 26.64 metric tons of recyclable materials were collected from January to June, 2017.
Furthermore, UANL is currently promoting the efficient use of paper and plastics to reduce their consumption, which has allowed an important decrease in waste generation. Some actions are detailed as follows:
- Reuse materials as much as possible before discarding—e.g., use both sides of a sheet of paper.
- Email notices, memos, invitations, and documents instead of printing.
- Use boards for announcements instead of distributing printed papers.
- Print in draft quality to reduce ink use and promote the use of both sides of a paper.
- Edit documents in digital format to reduce paper use.
- Implement campaigns for book and magazine donation and exchange between UANL entities.
- Promote the use of tableware in offices, reunions, and conferences to eliminate disposable flatware use.
- Upgrade to an electronic records management system or email platform, such as Outlook, that allows scheduling meetings, conferences, and formal events, sending reminders to appointments or events, and requesting read receipts. This prevents document printing.
- Avoid bottled water consumption by promoting the use of flasks or any personal reusable containers that can be filled with water dispensers.
- Promote the sale of returnable glass bottle drinks at cafeterias and the use of tableware instead of disposable flatware.
Due to its positive results, the implementation of these actions is set to become an institutional policy, applicable to all UANL entities.
Technical Guidelines for Waste Management
The UANL Vice Presidency of Sustainability, assisted by the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety, has developed technical guidelines for the handling and management of urban solid waste, recyclable waste, special handling waste, hazardous infectious biological and chemical waste generated within the different campuses.
- Technical guideline for the management of urban solid waste with recyclable and special handling characteristics.