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How much does recycling pollute?


The process of recycling or disposing of Urban waste generates a significant environmental impact, but can you calculate what that impact is? From the Polytechnic University of Madrid they have developed a methodology to calculate their carbon footprint at each stage of management.

With the data obtained through this formula, it is possible to evaluate whether the actions implemented so far are the most appropriate or whether a change would be worthwhile. The actions established by the regulations on the treatment of waste management are based on five levels ranging from prevention to landfill. Prevention is the option that goes ahead of reuse, recycling and other recovery (for example, energy recovery), to finish this the final deposit that would be the landfill or incineration of waste.

The European Union It claims that priority actions are the key to achieving a reduction in environmental impact, social advantages and economic benefits. In the UPM study, management from collection through transport and final treatment has been taken into account. In the last stage, the treatment, the direct emissions of gases generated by its essence (composting, incineration, landfill…) are taken into account as well as the indirect ones, consisting of the electrical energy necessary for treatment and which do not generate waste by themselves.

On a practical level, it has been studied Madrid case, whose result has been that 253Kg CO2 has been generated per ton of waste, where the treatment stage is the one that generates 88.7% of the polluting gases.

The circular economy applied allows the recovery of waste to be transformed into resources, although the principles of the European Union aim to reduce municipal waste if it is generated, efforts must be made to recover everything that can generate or have a second life and opportunity.

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