Ecopark: a step before landfill or incineration

Ecoparks are modern waste treatment facilities that allow some recyclable materials to be recovered and reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills or incineration.

Ecopark 1 in Barcelona, which opened in 2003 along with Pinto Ecopark[1] (Madrid), was one of the first integrated waste treatment centers opened to open in Spain.

In an Ecopark, the mixed or general waste is subjected to what is known as Mechanical and Biological Treatment (TMB). “Mechanical,” because the waste is separated and classified by mostly mechanical processes that allow the recovery of recyclable materials, such as metals, plastics, glass … to be recovered. “Biological,” because the remaining waste of left over after the mechanical stage, with a high presence of organic matter, is treated by biological processes.

We have seen the impact caused on the environment caused by the presence of organic matter –or biodegradable waste – in landfills, and the problem of leached leachate these days. Today, this impact is inevitable. With the current recycling rates, for a while, there will still be mixed waste remain for a that needs to be treated. Treating the mixed waste previously beforehand in an Eecopark is the best option to avoid the greenhouse effect produced by the waste in landfills,[2] since it allows as much as possible of recovering as much as possible the recyclable waste present in the mixed fraction (biodegradable materials, metals, plastics, paper, glass, etc.) to be recovered and, this way, only the material that cannot be recovered (stabilized material) is sent to the landfill the material that cannot be recovered (stabilized material).

Waste treatment in an Eecopark reduces greenhouse emissions caused by fromthe landfill

In 2012, in Catalonia, 50% of the waste from the mixed fraction or the gray container was pre-previously treated (MBT or mechanic and biological treatment in an Ecopark), 11% was incinerated, and 39% was deposited sent directly to landfill[3]. The Generalitat of Catalonia is working with the objective that, in 2020, the entire mixed fraction will receive previous treatment before being sent to landfill.[4]

The Ecoparcks allows to reduce by half the amount of waste sent it to landfill or incineration to be reduced by half

The Ecoparks or MBT facilities allow reducing the mixed fraction, that would be sent straight to destined directly to the landfill, to be reduced. In Catalonia, it this is currently 52%. More than a half! This is achieved by recovering materials (metal, plastics, bricks, cartons, etc.), obtaining a stabilized material, resulting in waste a reduction, of waste among other things.

Ecoparks are little-known waste facilities that, despite not being very well known, constitute an essential link in the entire waste management chain, contributing in an important way to environmental conservation. If you have the possibility to visit this kind of facility in your municipality,  there is the possibility to visit this kind of facility, don’t hesitate and to go. It’s well worth a visit.

Want to know more?

 The book Stop garbage. The truth about recycling, Alex Pascual, February 2019

i Visiting program for Ecoparks in Barcelona (ENG)

► Ecopark 4 de Hostalets de Pierola (CAST)

i What is an Ecopark? (ENG)

[1]. Xavier Elias Castells. Métodos de valoración y tratamiento de los residuos municipales, Díaz Santos, 2012

[2] Dominic Hogg report, op, cit

[3]. Prevention and waste management general program, Catalonia 2013-2020. Landfill data corrected with Catalonia waste Agency statistics. 2012


4 thoughts on “Ecopark: a step before landfill or incineration”

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