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
In Mexico, the generation of urban solid waste reached 53.1 million tons per year and currently the figures continue to rise, according to the most recent figure published in 2015 in the Report on the situation of the environment in Mexico. The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), promotes the integral management of waste at the federal level, starting with the generation until the final disposal through the phases or intermediate stages of collection, transport, storage – transfer, use, treatment and final disposition through plans, programs and regulatory framework, complemented with strategies of education, training, communication and strengthening of the legal and administrative framework, among others. In this framework, the Sustainability Secretariat (SS) of the UANL through the Directorate of Environmental Management and Operational Safety (DGASO), carries out the implementation of a management plan for the different types of waste generated in the campus of the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (UANL), with the aim of eliminating and / or minimizing the impacts caused by an inadequate management thereof, thus complying with current environmental regulations and promoting the culture of environmental care among the community university
Solid Urban Waste
The urban solid waste (RSU) that is generated in all the UANL campuses are collected by different authorized companies which transfer the waste to a transfer station, to later take them to the sanitary landfill of the Integral System for the Ecological Management and Processing of Waste (SIMEPRODE), which is located in the Municipality of Salinas Victoria and is administered by the government of the state of Nuevo León.
According to the provisions of the General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Waste (LGPGIR), a sanitary landfill must incorporate specific engineering works and methods that allow the control of leachate leaks and the proper management of generated gases for the confined waste with the objective of avoiding the contamination of the subsoil and aquifers. In Nuevo León, this place has a sorting plant, where the recyclable waste (glass, aluminum, cardboard, paper, plastics and steel) are separated and the rest is taken to the cells of the landfill where the waste is deposited and compacted to reduce its volume and then covered with layers of clay. One way to use organic waste in the sanitary landfill is to use the methane gas produced as energy, the biogas produced by the decomposition of the waste is used to generate energy in the sanitary landfill of the Salinas Victoria municipality, being Nuevo León a pioneer in the implementation of this process. The biogas is conducted through a system of special pipes to a bioenergy plant where it is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the public lighting network of seven municipalities in the metropolitan area of the City of Monterrey, five dependencies of the state government, the Fundidora Park, besides providing energy to the Metrorrey collective transport system (urban electric train), which makes it a unique project of its kind, within mitigation actions that are carried out in Mexico to avoid production of gases that cause global warming.
Waste Separation and Recycling (PROSER in its Spanish acronym)
With the objective of maximizing the use of resources and preventing or reducing environmental impacts, the UANL began in February 2013 the Waste Separation and Recycling Program (PROSER) in the rectory tower and the central administration offices located in the City. University Later in May of the same year an agreement was signed with the company Comercial Recicladora, S.A. of C.V. (COPAMEX), which ensures the proper handling and final disposal of waste.
Currently, the program operates through a network of collaboration and mutual commitment of each agency involved where each one segregates its waste in containers destined for it, later the supplier collects and delivers in exchange recycled paper or cash, which can be destined for the purchase of containers or some other activity related to the program. Finally, once the recycling process is completed, a report is generated by the supplier in which the environmental benefits obtained are reported.
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
Within the period February 2013- December 2017, a total of 394.60 tons of recyclable material were collected, whose sample characterization follows:
PROSER, characterization of recyclable waste, from February 2013 to December 2017.
Source: COPAMEX reciclados and Biopappel.
The management of these materials is supported by companies with vast experience in recyclable waste handling.
By implementing PROSER at UANL, significant environmental benefits have been achieved, some of which are shown below:
In addition to the above, it is important to mention that the success of this program has been thanks to the commitment of the university community to adopt sustainable practices within their daily activities and thereby support the care of the environment.
I would like to highlight the valuable support that the Social Service and Professional Practices Department has provided to our institutional program, which has as part of its mission to generate student participation for its integral formation by interacting with the social, productive, governmental and academic sectors to contribute with the social responsibility of the UANL. One of the activities carried out in this regard is the support to the Tigers campaign to rescue the environment in which students who are doing their community social service provide recyclable materials such as plastic (PET), cardboard, paper and aluminum ; for the period January-December 2017, the figure collected was 49.2 tons of recyclable material.
Currently, UANL promotes the efficient use of paper and plastic, which aims to reduce the consumption of these materials, in addition to reducing the amount of waste generated. Due to the good results obtained so far, the realization of these actions is in the process of becoming an institutional policy.
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 Sustainability Secretariat, throught 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.