Concern for caring for the environment continues to grow, and the ways to do as little damage as possible to our planet are becoming more and more common. As we mentioned in the post on the waste hierarchy, waste recovery is one of the steps in the waste hierarchy pyramid, i.e. one of the types of treatment that waste must receive before it ends up in the landfill.
What is waste recovery?
Waste recovery is the process by which waste is transformed so that it can be used for a new purpose, or to replace raw materials in other industrial processes or products.
Recovery is defined as "an operation the main result of which is that the waste serves a useful purpose by replacing other materials that would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function". In addition, the preparation of the waste to fulfil a particular function, in the facility or in the economy at large, is also considered as recovery.
Depending on the composition of the waste, the recovery procedure will be different depending on the waste in question (organic, inorganic, hazardous, etc.).
Types of waste recovery
Once the waste has been assessed and its characteristics have been taken into account, two types of waste recovery can be distinguished:
The aim of this type of recovery is to obtain new materials from the recycling of the waste. In this way we reduce the use of raw materials in the manufacturing process of new products, being able to reuse a material that has already been used. We usually see this recovery in materials such as glass, cardboard, paper and light packaging.
In this case, it is based on converting waste that cannot be recycled into energy, either for domestic or industrial use, which can be electrical energy, biogas, biomethane or hydrocarbons, among others.
These processes are carried out through a series of thermochemical phases. These consist of subjecting biomass to the action of high temperatures by various methods: combustion, pyrolysis or gasification.
Processes based on the action of micro-organisms on the waste, so-called biochemical conversion processes, can also be used. These include alcoholic fermentation or anaerobic digestion.
Benefits of waste recovery
The first benefit, clearly, is environmental. With waste recovery we manage to transform a linear economy based on production-use-waste into a circular economy, which is based on obtaining materials suitable for producing new products from waste.
On the other hand, the main benefit of obtaining new materials from waste is the reduction in the amount of waste that eventually ends up in landfills.
The reuse of materials leads to a reduction in the cost of purchasing raw materials, since the purchase of raw materials has a higher cost than the purchase of recycled materials.
However, investment is required for the recovery of waste, although it is preferable to spend more money on recovery than on the purchase of raw materials.
Waste recovery creates jobs, as investment in recycling plants is increasing. It is also a guarantee of energy supply for future generations.
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