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ZW Best practices: Hernani

ZW best practice: Hernani

Hernani was one of the first towns in Guipúzcoa to declare zero waste. As a result, since 2009, the waste recovery rate has almost quadrupled, while the amount of waste generated has decreased significantly. This is their story.

In 2002, the regional waste management consortium in the province of Guipúzcoa, Spain, faced an almost full landfill and proposed to build two new incinerators. Citizens strongly opposed the incinerators and prevented one from being built and the new party elected in 2011 stopped the second one. Hernani and two other small cities in the area developed an ambitious plan to collect source-separated waste, including organic matter. . Where a zero waste strategy is adopted, the amount of waste entering the landfill has been reduced by 80%. With the new political leadership opposing the incineration, door-to-door collection is expanding throughout the region.

Practice and technology

Ernani is a city with more than 19,000 inhabitants in the Basque Country of Spain. Together with nine other cities, it becomes part of San Marco Mancom Nida (a free city association), which aims to jointly manage solid waste. At the provincial level, all mancomunidades plus the provincial government formed a consortium responsible for the promotion and management of the Guipúzcoa integrated waste management plan. Hernani’s previous municipal waste management system relied heavily on waste treatment, supplemented by a limited recycling system. Although citizens can voluntarily put recyclables in the four large containers on the street, most of the city’s garbage is sent to landfills.

In 2002, when the San Marco landfill was almost full, the provincial government proposed a controversial plan: adding another container for voluntary recycling of organic materials and building two new incinerators. The citizens immediately opposed the incineration. Since then, the region has been caught in a fierce debate between those who want to build incinerators and those who advocate waste prevention policies and better source separation strategies.

Joining the opposition of citizens, some municipalities not only decided to reject plans to build new incinerators, but also implemented alternatives to burial or incineration. Usurbil was the first municipality to do so. This small town of 6,000 has established a door-to-door system for collecting source-separated waste streams, including organic materials. In just 6 weeks, the amount of collected waste sent to landfill dropped by 80%. The resource recovery rate in the first year was 82%. In 2008, Usurbil transported 175 tons to the landfill every month before starting the on-site collection. One year later, the quantity dropped to 25 tons.

Implement changes

In May 2010, after two months of dialogue with citizens to explain and solicit opinions on the new system, Hernani followed Usurbil's model. The municipal government distributed two small trash cans to each household, placed hooks for hanging trash cans and bags in front of houses and buildings, removed large containers from the street, made garbage classification a mandatory requirement, and carried out The door-to-door collection. Citizens began to place separated organic matter, lightweight packaging, paper and cardboard, and residues in front of their houses.

Each stream has a designated pick-up day: organic food on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; light packaging on Monday and Thursday; paper and cardboard on Tuesday; and residual on Saturday. Lightweight packaging is placed in bags, and the government sells reusable bags for this purpose. Paper and cardboard are tied into bundles or placed in boxes or bags. The organic matter is placed in a garbage bin provided by the government, and the residue is disposed of in a bag. The series was completed by a public company called Garbitania, which was created by the governments of Hernani, Usurbil, and Oiartzun. The collection is completed in the evening, and there is a supplementary shift in the morning. Every trash can and every hook has a code that identifies the household that uses them. This allows the government to monitor the separation of each family. If the collector identifies a river that does not correspond to the collection day, he/she will put a red cross on the trash can and will not collect the waste. The information is provided to the administrative office, and the family receives a notice explaining why the waste is not collected.

For glass, the large container system on the street has been maintained, and door-to-door collection is only carried out in the old city. Non-profit associations created by manufacturers, packers, bottlers, and recyclers handle this stream. The association’s funding comes from donations paid by packaging companies for each product it puts on the market.

If someone misses the door-to-door collection, there are four emergency centers that can discard garbage. There is also a garbage dump that can receive bulky garbage, electrical and electronic equipment, and other garbage not included in door-to-door collection for free. For businesses, the collection schedule is the same as that of households, but the collection time for residues has been increased by one day. In rural areas, home composting is mandatory, and other streams are collected door-to-door or sent to garbage collection centers.

Under the new system, Hernani promotes household composting throughout the city. People can sign up for composting courses, request a home composting manual, and get a compost bin for free. There is a telephone line for composting advice, and composting experts can visit families in need. Those who register for composting at home can enjoy a 40% discount on municipal waste management fees. The cost of the enterprise varies according to the frequency of collection and the amount of waste generated, using the pay-as-you-go standard.

San Marko mancomunidad operates a material recycling facility that can sort and sell light packaging. Paper and cardboard were sold to nearby recycling companies. Organic materials must be transported to a composting plant 50 kilometers away, operated by a provincial consortium. Source separation is reflected in the materials Hernani brings to the composting plant, which contains an average of only 1.5% impurities (non-organic and other contaminants). [1]

In the first full month of door-to-door collection, residues fell by 80%, and the total amount of waste managed fell by 27%. [2] In 2010, the municipal government’s landfill volume decreased by 53.8% compared with 2009 (5,219 tons in 2009 and 2,412 tons in 2010), and door-to-door collection only started in May.

"Our most advanced technology is neighbors."Communication and community participation are the keys to the success of the program. I believe that using an incinerator is the worst option, and door-to-door collection is feasible. Hernani's best solution supports this change. Two months before the implementation of the new expropriation system, the government organized a meeting to explain and amend the new expropriation system. As the mayor said: "Our most advanced technology is neighbors. If the neighbors are separated well, there is no need to build an incinerator."[3]

The government that implements the door-to-door collection program has promoted the establishment of a citizen committee to monitor its implementation. In addition, based on the early anti-incinerator movement, the local Zero Zabor (zero waste) organization emerged in these cities. Different local groups work together in Gipuzkoa Zero Zabor. Over the years, these volunteer activists have advanced the dialogue from opposing incinerators to promoting a true zero waste strategy that focuses on preventing waste-through changes in design, production and consumption-and recycling in a safe and sustainable manner. All discarded materials.

Hernani joined other cities and groups to oppose incinerators and promoted door-to-door collection to the entire province of Guipúzcoa. Many cities in the region are reluctant to choose a zero-waste strategy, which may undermine the progress that cities using these strategies are making. However, since the municipal elections in July 2011, the political situation has changed.

Hernani's waste production-before and after home collection

In 2010, Hernani produced an average of 500 tons of municipal solid waste per month, 0.86 kg per capita per day, compared with 1.1 kg in the previous year. Spain’s recent economic crisis has led to a general reduction in waste production in the country. The implementation of the new door-to-door collection system and garbage publicity activities may increase people's awareness of garbage, leading to changes in buying behavior. Finally, the previous large trash can system may make it easier for people to put non-residential waste (such as construction and demolition waste) into the trash can, while the current single trash can system is more difficult to do.

The table below shows the evolution of the composition of Hernani household waste before and after the on-site collection system. Table 3 provides the specific quantities of each waste stream.

The table below shows that Usurbil, Hernani, and Oiartzun reduced the residual waste per capita in a short period of time, while in other cities, this figure remained the same. Antzuola, the fourth city that uses door-to-door garbage collection, reports that 90% of the collected waste is separated and recycled, and the residue only accounts for 10% of the total collection. [1]

The Hernani government compared the cost of the door-to-door collection system with the previous system that used four large containers

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