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New sorting line to boost Ibiza’s recycling rates

Worldwide, islands struggle with waste management and Ibiza is no exception. At the height of the coronavirus crisis, the Spanish island and major tourist destination welcomed a new sorting plant to process packaging and municipal waste.

Designed and installed by sorting tech specialist Stadler near Ibiza’s landfill at Ca Na Putxa, the 50 000 m2 facility serves both Ibiza and Formentera, the most southerly islands of the Balearics.

Sustainable criteria have guided the design and construction of the facility. For example, water obtained by osmosis from landfill leachate was used to mix the concrete and the air purifying system uses a biofilter for odour elimination. Solar panels will be installed on the roof.

Smart separation

The sorting plant consists of three automated lines. Two are used to sort urban solid waste and light packaging on separate shifts. A third, independent, line is dedicated to organic waste from segregated collection and benefits from the latest sorting technologies for biological treatment processes.

‘The process uses the latest technology to increase recovery rates and sort recyclable materials,’ says Luis Sánchez, Stadler’s operations director in Spain.

The Ca Na Putxa facility can handle up to 120 000 tonnes of municipal solid waste, 6 000 tonnes of packaging and 20 000 tonnes of organic materials. The aim is to comply with European waste treatment regulations and the facility strives to be a model for sustainable operation and for raising public awareness. To this end, the complex includes a conference room with interpretation facilities to host guided tours.

Recovering plastics

Other materials are processed through ballistic separators. Depending on their rigidity, they are fed into the different optical sorting, and ferrous and non-ferrous sorting chutes. Having gone through quality control, the sorted materials are stored in automated bunkers for baling at a later stage. The output at the end of the process consists of PET, PEAD, PEBD, PP, TETRAPACK, P/C, organic film, iron and aluminium fractions and general waste.

Covid headaches

The Stadler engineering team, says facility manager Toni Roig, has dealt with ‘all the challenges that come with an island location’.

He explains: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic hit as we were in the midst of the installation process. Even so, they rigorously complied with all the safety protocols, both when the installation work resumed and when they sent their staff as soon as it was possible. This enabled us to achieve all the project’s objectives despite the difficulties.’

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