May 11, 2020

The Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Recovery is producing emissions at under 20% of the legal limit during the COVID crisis

by MaresmeCircular in Consortium, Uncategorized

The main continuous indicator of the presence of chlorinated products, necessary for the formation of dioxins, has decreased even more during the treatment of sanitary waste since the end of March, according to a specific study carried out by the Eurecat


The Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Recovery has lowered the production of dioxins even further during the exceptional situation generated by COVID-19. This is one of the main conclusions of a study on the possible generation of chlorinated waste and its effect on the potential formation of dioxins, through the plant’s treatment of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) used in Catalan hospitals during the management of the crisis.

The study, commissioned by the Maresme Consortium for Municipal Solid Waste Treatment, and carried out by Eurecat, concludes that, during the time that sanitary waste has been treated, production of hydrochloric acid (HCl), the main continuous indicator of the presence of chlorinated products, necessary for the formation of dioxins, has actually decreased. These HCl emissions, which before the pandemic were already reduced by 70% of the permitted limit, have decreased more than 10% during the weeks that the plant has been serving different Catalan hospitals.

The Eurecat study states: “There is no evidence that allows us to conclude that the incineration of PPE coming from hospitals is a factor which could contribute to an increase in the production of dioxins and furans owing to the introduction of chlorinated products. In fact, the composition of single- use PPE, and above all the data on hydrochloric acid indicate the contrary, and probably the incineration of sanitary PPE means the arrival of less chlorinated waste, such as polyvinyl chloride, in comparison to waste incinerated in periods before the Covid-19 crisis. To this has to be added the fact that the plant is already below the maximum permitted values when functioning normally”. In this respect, it is worth highlighting that the average of the periodic measurements of dioxin and furan emissions at the Centre in 2019 was 24 times lower than the legal limit (0.0042 against the limit of 0.1 ng / Nm3).

Regarding the composition of the PPE, the study indicates that it is largely made up of the non-chlorinated types of plastic (polypropylene and low density polyethylene) most consumed in Europe, almost 20 million tonnes per year, and therefore habitually present in municipal waste.

Moreover, the Eurecat recommends direct contact between the Plant and the different hospitals to have a detailed description of the specific PPE used, allowing it to be accurately characterised, and also to emphasise the importance of segregation and different management to other equipment which may contain chlorinated substances. This last point is something which, in all likelihood, is already being carried out.
In response to the rumours propagated by groups which supposedly care about suitable waste management, the Consortium once again shows rigorous management, responsibility as a public service, and commitment to accurate information on the impact of the activity carried out at the Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Management. In fact, the complete report by the Eurecat, carried out by the Technological Unit for Waste, Energy and Environmental Impact in the Area of Sustainability can be downloaded here. Additionally, the periodic analytical results on emissions, dioxins and furans since 1994 can be accessed on the Consortium’s webpage.