Europes largest composting plant opens in Murcia, Spain


The plant, and the adjoining municipal solid waste treatment plant, are managed by Cespa, a services subsidiary of Ferrovial

With capacity to process sludge from all the region´s sewage treatment plants, the new plant will recycle 140,000 tonnes of sludge per year, turning it into fertiliser

This is the first application in Spain of automated closed composting, a technique already applied successfully in Italy, Canada and Australia

The initiative brings further progress towards sustainable development by turning a waste problem into a means of combating desertification

Murcia, 25 November 2003. The city of Murcia, in south-east Spain, today started up Europe´s largest composting plant, with capacity to process 140,000 tonnes per year of sludge from the region´s sewage treatment plants. The process produces compost for use in agriculture, gardening and the fight against desertification and, therefore, contributes towards sustainable development.

The new facility, located on the site of Murcia´s municipal solid waste treatment plant (managed by Cespa, a Ferrovial services subsidiary), occupies a 60,000 square metre site and cost 22 million euros, which was financed with European Union funds.

The composting plant is an environmental engineering project that will address the growing volume of organic waste produced in the Murcia region.

Composting plant

The composting plant´s main features are as follows:

- As in any waste processing plant, all the energy required by the plant will come from biogas.

- This is Spain´s first experience with the automated closed composting hall system, which has been successfully implemented in Italy, Canada and Australia

- The plant applies the most advance technology to a fully automated waste treatment process.

- The composting process is non-polluting since biofilters eliminate smells and leach water is dried using residual heat from the biogas engines.

Waste management in Murcia

The project enhances the ecological dimension of waste treatment in Murcia, which has a municipal solid waste treatment plant comprising:

- Municipal solid waste selection and recycling unit

- Fully automated cutting-edge bottle selection plant, for source-sorted bottles

- Controlled, leak-proof landfill with treatment of leached fluids and extraction of biogas

- Plant to generate electricity from landfill biogas, with no addition of other gases, producing 18 million kWh per year.

The waste processing plant obtains all its energy from the biogas plant: it is now a veritable cogeneration system because of the leach water treatment process, since exhaust gases from the engines used to produce electricity are used to evaporate leach water, thus optimising and raising the process´s energy performance from 35% to 65%.

The inauguration of the new plant will be attended by the President of the Murcia autonomous region, Mr. Ramón Luis Valcárcel, and the Mayor of Murcia city, Mr. Miguel Ángel Cámara Botía, among other dignitaries.


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