1. Ferrovial
  2. Resources


What is waste? 

The word waste describes material that loses its usefulness after having fulfilled its mission or served in carrying out a particular job.

Waste is any material considered not to have enough worth to be conserved. It differs from garbage, which is human-produced waste that cannot be reused or recycled. 

What is waste management? 

Waste management is the set of activities needed for treating waste, from its generation to its elimination or reuse. This includes its collection, transportation, managing those that are especially dangerous, and recycling usable materials.

Over time, waste management has become crucial for ecological and financial reasons. Previously, waste management consisted of transporting waste to a secluded location and using incineration as a method of destruction. Today, recycling processes have instead been developed. In addition, there is greater awareness of waste generation, which has influenced products’ design and consumption.

What are the phases of waste management?

  1. Collection at the point of generation, such as our homes.
  2. Transportation to the appropriate locations for processing.
  3. Processing at plants equipped to reuse as much as possible.
  4. Final disposal of waste that cannot be reused in any way.

What are the objectives of waste management?

  • Minimizing waste generation as much as possible.
  • Reusing materials as much as possible before transforming them into waste.
  • Transforming waste for recycling.
  • Raising awareness and educating about waste management.
  • Improving the scope of comprehensive waste management so that it reaches everywhere.
  • Using treatment and disposal methods that enable recovering energy and creating fuels (two examples of meeting this objective are Sweden and Norway, which have become garbage importers to generate energy).
  • Maximizing reuse of waste for compost and fertilization.
  • Promoting new disposal technologies that are greener and less harmful than traditional methods.

The most important of these objectives are to prevent waste generation and minimize it when it does occur. Next, we would find ways to reuse and recycle as much as possible to save materials, generate energy, and compost. Lastly would be disposing of non-recycled waste in the least harmful way possible. These objectives connect with the concept of Circular Economy and have been synthesized in the motto: reduce, reuse, recycle, which has become a way of life for many.

How can waste be disposed of?

Traditionally, there have been two main ways of disposing of waste, which did not contribute to reusing materials or generating energy.

  1. Landfills: places far from population centers where garbage is simply deposited. This entails a significant risk of contaminating the soil and water; the effects of hazardous waste that haven’t been treated are also not controlled.
  2. Incineration: burning garbage. This is the oldest way to handle waste. It produces polluting (and potentially toxic) emissions, which are released into the atmosphere.

New ways of disposing of waste have been developed:

  1. Pyrolysis: incineration in sealed tanks with little oxygen. This produces less pollution and more efficient burning in terms of the usable energy generated. It can be used to obtain fuels with certain organic or plant residues.
  2. Biological reprocessing: organic matter (even paper) is broken down to form compost, which serves as compost for agriculture.
  3. Recycling: usable material, such as aluminum, plastic, or paper, is used to create new aluminum, plastic, or paper.
  4. Wastewater treatment: due to rapid growth in cities, wastewater has increased significantly. Its treatment produces various types of sludge, which is extracted and can then be used in agriculture as fertilizer.

How to make a waste management plan for construction 

A Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) management plan must establish steps that encourage reusing, recycling, and recovering the CDW generated in all projects, whether for construction, renovation, maintenance, or emergency use.

Any management plan must set forth the appropriate steps for managing the CDW in accordance with the provisions of current regulations on integral management and the CDW value chain. The objectives that must be included in the plan are:

  1. Determining the actions to be carried out on the project fronts for Comprehensive Management of the CDW.
  2. Complying with current environmental regulations.
  3. Reducing the final disposal of CDW by implementing actions that allow for reusing, recycling, or recovering these wastes.

To comply with current regulations, all work fronts must:

  • Prevent or minimize waste generation.
  • Have temporary waste collection.
  • Classify the CDW generated.
  • Separate the waste. 
  • Reuse.
  • Recycle.
  • Transport the waste for final disposal.

What waste management benchmarks are there in Spain?

Waste management is a crucial issue that is an increasing concern for companies in reducing their environmental impact, looking towards contributing to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Ferrovial company includes offering infrastructure and services that respond to global challenges like climate change, the energy crisis, or the loss of biodiversity among its priorities.

Environmental sustainability has always played a significant role for Ferrovial, not only from the perspective of responsibility or as a mechanism to manage certain types of risks more efficiently, but also as a source of new ideas and business models (waste treatment plants, material recovery, reusing materials from demolition in works, and more).

Ferrovial is committed to sustainable development. Each year, the company reports indicators like CO2 emissions ( carbon footprint), water consumption, waste, and environmental sanctions. It also sets objectives for improving its environmental performance and strengthens its climate strategy through the development of infrastructure and services for a low-emission green economy.

For instance, the considerable volumes of earthworks in construction contracts have led them to set a reuse target to minimize impacts. Reusing earth on the construction site eliminates the emissions that would be generated in transit, as well as favoring better landscape integration on-site. The goal is to reuse 80% of earth under construction for 2021, as compared to 2016.

Fun facts about waste

  • For every ton of paper that’s recycled, 18 trees are saved.
  • Every year, the amount of waste generated increases: in the last 40 years, more waste has been produced globally than from the origin of humankind through 1970.
  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to produce it.
  • According to estimates, almost twice the current waste will be produced globally – that is, about 6 million tons – by the year 2025.
  • Waste from soil, concrete, and materials from a previous manufacturing process accounts for 88% of all construction waste.

Google Play App Store