Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Night is right for Spain

Letting the nights go to waste works for Spain. That’s when most collectors of municipal solid waste (MSW) operate: on Spain and its islands, collection would normally start between 10pm and midnight and continues until 6am.

This night-time collection has several benefits. The warm climate makes it impractical to carry these tasks out in the daytime, and tourists would not appreciate the sight of waste being removed from popular resorts. It also reduces traffic congestion and the likelihood of accidents involving members of the public. Risks to the refuse collection operatives are also reduced by night-time working.

Collections are carried out by the public and private sector, but only the private sector performs disposals. The main companies that perform both include Fomento De Construction Y Contractas, Urbaser, Cespa, Acciona and Sufi and their subsidiaries.

“Having one communal point for the collection of all the defined waste types encourages the public, tourists and the retail industry to separate their waste at source”

Waste in Spain is traditionally placed in plastic 1,100-litre Euro containers that are located at communal collection points along public roads, although they are also found in hotels, apartments, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. Multiple containers are supplied because of the massive increase in MSW from the tourist industry. In the tourist season, this increase in MSW means that the 1,100-litre containers fill very quickly, which leads to overfill and waste being placed next to the containers awaiting collection.

Containers are normally grey or green so that residents and the whole of the tourist infrastructure of hotels, bars and so on can easily identify and define the waste type and the correct container for it. The number of waste containers at a communal waste collection point is dependent on the method statement prepared by the municipality and/or private sector contractor after a review has calculated how much MSW is produced.

At these communal collection points, as well as the container for MSW, there are separate containers for recyclable materials such as paper, glass and plastic. Having one communal point for the collection of all the defined waste types encourages the public, tourists and the retail industry to separate their waste at source. This encourages people to deposit only the residual and inert waste in the containers for the collection of MSW, after separating out the recyclables.

Waste collection is carried out by a traditional refuse collection vehicle (RCV) such as those produced by Ros Roca and Geesink Norba. The crew of these vehicles comprises a driver and two loaders. The driver is responsible for his vehicle, the loaders and to ensure the collection operation is carried out in accordance with health and safety guidelines. The driver is also responsible for ensuring that the loaders wear their high-visibility clothing and personal protection equipment supplied by their employers.

The loaders empty the 1,100-litre containers at the designated communal points along the roadside using Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) container handling equipment. DIN, the German organisation for standards, is acknowledged as a national standards body by European and international organisations. The container is positioned at the rear of the RCV, before the two trunnion pins that are located on either side of the bin are pushed into the trunnion arms of the lift so that it can be emptied.

DIN container handling equipment guidelines apply in Spain. Earlier RCVs were supplied with DIN 30700 equipment, a purely trunnion-type of lift. More recently, Spain has invested in new RCVs that meet DIN 30740 standards. This means the lifting gear is transversant with a comb bar consisting of eight teeth, as well as the trunnion arms complying with the earlier DIN 30700 standard.

Trunnion-type arms are moveable via a spring. When the container emptying starts, they are left out, before being folded in while the vehicle is on the move. Trunnion arms are susceptible to breaking off periodically and can be repaired by welding. Another disadvantage is that operatives sometimes have difficulty locating the trunnion pins on the sides of the 1,100-litre containers, which makes the collection operation difficult.

Split vehicles
Spain, like other EU member states, is trying to meet waste targets based on its national waste strategy to reduce waste sent to landfill, so another collection option has been implemented. This involves the selective collection of MSW. An RCV is deployed that has its collection body as a split fraction. In this specialist RCV, there is a choice of the split fraction being 50:50, 60:40 or 70:30. The contractor therefore has the choice of which split commodity best suits its operation, determined by analysis of the quantity of recyclables and residual MSW being collected.

This multi-purpose collection technique has the advantage of versatility in collecting residual MSW, organic waste or dry recyclables (paper, glass, plastic and so on). It is also an efficient way because it reduces emissions as well as carbon footprint. The crew of the RCV is able to collect this type of commingled material before it is delivered to the materials recycling facility or anaerobic digestion plant.

Another advantage of this system is that because the RCV has two separate split tailgates and the body has a split fraction, the recyclable material remains free from contamination by the residual MSW. At the communal collection points, paper is sometimes stored in a paper bank rather than a 1,100-litre container. In this case, it will be emptied by a tipper vehicle with a crane and lifting gear. It will then be transported to the paper processing facility.

Side loaders
Another collection method, introduced in the mid-1990s, uses a side loader RCV. It was first implemented in Cordoba by private contractor Sadeco, and has steadily grown in popularity. This type of collection is now used in most major cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia. It is also gaining ground in the smaller towns, as well as the Balearics and Canary Islands. These side loaders are made in Italy by OMB, Farid (sold in Spain by Ros Roca), AMS and Mazzocchia. Their equipment is also used in Rome and Naples.

The side loader is more cost effective because it does not require a crew: a driver can operate it unaccompanied. Its efficiency is further increased by the introduction of a geographical information system that plans a route for the drivers each day, which they simply follow. This also means the vehicle can be monitored on its route and helps to improve the general productivity of the refuse contract.

Side loaders collect waste from containers ranging from 1,200 litres to 3,200 litres. These are lifted and emptied by the vehicle’s lifting arms into the chargebox of the side loader, where the waste is then compacted. A major advantage of this system is the ability of the side loader’s lifting arms to partially rotate the container in the discharge position to stop any objects, such as cardboard boxes, from remaining
in the containers. The driver can watch this operation from the cab through CCTV cameras.

Side loaders can also be fitted with bodies that incorporate split fraction design. Barcelona also uses this type of equipment to collect selected organic and residual MSW matter.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.