Chile generates over 2.9 million metric tons of municipal solid waste per year and 1.7 million tons of solid waste from industrial sources excluding mining, construction, and agricultural wastes. As mandated by the Sanitary Code, each municipality is responsible for the collection, transport, and disposal of municipal wastes. Municipalities either provide these services themselves or contract them out to private companies. Although the Ministry of Cooperation and Planning (Mideplan) has estimated that approximately 95 percent of domestic solid waste is collected in urban areas, many of the landfills are poorly constructed and managed, posing serious threats to the environment and neighboring communities. Approximately 75 percent of the landfills in Chile are operated by private companies. While each municipality has its own ordinances for solid waste management, the national Sanitary Code establishes minimum standards for the siting and operation of municipal landfills; these standards are enforced by the Ministry of Health.
For the most part, solid waste management has not been a priority for the Chilean Government. Significant increases in waste generation over the past ten years, fueled in large part by the country’s economic growth, have outstripped Chile’s capacity to adequately manage its wastes. To address this problem, Mideplan has committed $1.6 million for the preparation of a solid waste management plan for urban wastes. Preliminary studies were completed in late 1997 for the cities of Antofagasta, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Concepción, Penco, Talcahuano, and Puerto Montt, and studies are underway for an additional 20 cities. Metropolitan Santiago Region
Approximately three-quarters of the solid waste in the country is generated in the Santiago region. While collection services are fairly good, there are only two landfills for the entire Santiago metropolitan area: Loma Los Colorados, located in the community of Til-Til in northern Santiago, and Lepanto, in San Bernardo in the southern part of the city. The Til-Til landfill is operated by KDM, a company that belongs to Holding Kenbourne Ingenieria Ambiental (KIASA) and De Marco. Both of these companies have U.S. investment partners. This $40 million landfill and transfer station has been in operation for about one year and operates under strict waste management practices. Approximately 20 municipalities in the greater Santiago metropolitan region send their wastes to this landfill, paying $10.15 per ton ($5.64 for transfer and transport and $4.51 for disposal). KDM received a $22 million, five-year loan from local banks to finance this investment.
The Lepanto landfill is operated by EMERES Ltda., an association of the 22 municipalities in the southern zone of Santiago. This landfill serves almost four million inhabitants. Costs for waste disposal are approximately $9.00 per ton. Because of increasingly strong opposition from the surrounding community, this landfill is scheduled to be closed in 1999. With the closure of the current site pending, EMERES has called for bids for constructing a new landfill. Three proposals have been prequalified to submit proposals: two are Chilean companies; the other is CGE, a French company that currently manages a landfill in the city of Rancagua (Region VI). Once constructed, EMERES will continue to manage the new landfill. Other Regions
Municipalities that manage their own landfills can issue contracts for the expansion of existing landfills or for new construction. Studies recently undertaken by Mideplan revealed the following priorities:
The current landfill in Antofagasta needs to meet the standards for a sanitary landfill within the next three years.
The useful life of the Viña del Mar landfill, currently operated below standards by a private company, will expire at the end of 1998.
The landfills in Concepción, Penco, and Talcahuano are seriously deficient. The Talcahuano landfill has a remaining life of three years; those in Concepción and Penco both have seven years.
There is some formal and informal recycling of cardboard boxes, aluminum, paper, and glass. Several companies in Santiago pick up paper and cardboard, particularly from industrial facilities, and a few buy plastic scraps; some supermarkets have established drop-off sites for cans and glass. Most recycling, however, is done informally by collection trucks that pass through the streets before regular garbage collection. The government does not have any plans to launch major recycling initiatives, as the current market for paper recycling is not very profitable.
Industrial Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
Over the past few years, industrial waste management has received more attention than municipal waste. Two studies of industrial solid wastes were recently completed. The one done by CONAMA was for regions V, VIII, and IX, the most populated regions of the country. The objective of this study was to evaluate the qualities and types of wastes generated by the industrial sector. The study found that these regions generated approximately 0.8 million metric tons of industrial waste, 5 percent of which is considered hazardous.
A second industrial waste study was performed in 1996 for the greater Santiago metropolitan region, with the support of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. The objective of this study was to develop a master plan for adequately managing these wastes through the year 2010. The study found that the metropolitan region generates approximately one million metric tons of industrial waste annually, 8 percent of which is considered hazardous. The same study estimated that annual industrial waste generation will increase to 1.8 million metric tons by 2010 and that the storage, collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of these wastes will cost approximately $41.7 million per year.
The study also found that approximately 56 percent of industrial wastes are “recycled.” However, very little of this waste is actually recycled at the generating facility; instead, it is sold to a third party to haul off-site. Separate investigations show that this waste is, for the most part, improperly treated and often disposed of illegally.
Industrial wastes are not currently regulated systematically. Companies are responsible for their own waste disposal and generally contract with private waste haulers. The Health Service has developed some regulations for the transport of hazardous waste, and there are some restrictions on waste disposal. The Sanitary Code prohibits the disposal of toxic, flammable, or corrosive materials in landfills, and municipal ordinances often restrict other types of wastes (e.g., construction material and paint residuals). Until very recently, no disposal sites accepted these kinds of wastes, leaving thousands of tons of wastes to be stored on-site or disposed of in clandestine dumps.
The first facility for the treatment and storage of toxic and hazardous waste went into operation in late 1997. This plant, constructed and operated by the Spanish company Hidronor, can handle 50,000 tons of hazardous waste, or approximately 60 percent of the hazardous waste generated in the metropolitan region. With this $25 million plant on-line, authorities will be able to better enforce proper treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Even with the addition of this facility, however, Chile’s capacity is insufficient to process the amount of waste currently generated, much less the projected increase.
The Santiago metropolitan region is the only area to have established a manifest system to track the generation, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste, per a resolution enacted by the Metropolitan Environmental Health Service in 1993 (Resolution 5081/1993). An objective of the program is to maintain a registry of the types and quantities of industrial wastes and records of their treatment or disposal. The Environmental Health Service is responsible for managing this program through the Program to Control Fixed Source Emissions (PROCEFF). Although the manifest system has been in place for a number of years, the majority of industries do not comply: Many dispose of the wastes illegally; others submit a declaration form indicating they disposed of the wastes in an authorized landfill, but often fail to report the characteristics of their waste.
New regulations for hazardous waste management are expected to go into effect in early 1998, opening up new market opportunities. These regulations will outline sanitary guidelines and minimum protection standards for the storage, collection, transport, commercialization, treatment, and final disposal of such wastes. Waste categories will be based on those outlined in the Basel Convention. The Health Services agencies in each province will enforce compliance with these regulations.
Hospital Waste Management
Studies on hospital wastes have been carried out only for the metropolitan region. In 1996, approximately 7,500 metric tons were generated in hospitals and health clinics. The Solid Waste Master Plan estimates that this amount will increase by about 1,000 tons per year, reaching 10,400 tons by 2010. Presently, there are no regulations governing the management of medical wastes, although the Ministry of Health is studying waste management options. Each hospital is required to prepare a waste management plan. Many hospitals incinerate their wastes on the premises or send them to an incineration facility. Because of air pollution problems in the Santiago metropolitan region, however, many hospitals can no longer incinerate their wastes because doing so does not comply with air pollution standards. An increasingly common practice is to sterilize wastes in autoclaves, then dispose of them in landfills as domestic waste.
Market Summary and Best Prospects
The market for municipal, industrial, and hospital wastes, excluding contracts for municipal waste collection or operation of municipal landfills, is estimated at $85 million or 1998. While the need for improvement of existing landfills and additional waste facilities is great, this is not the most dynamic market segment in Chile. However, companies such as France’s CGE and Spain’s HIDRONOR have successfully entered this market. By financing a number of waste studies, the Japanese are also establishing a channel for their companies to actively pursue opportunities in this market. The best opportunities include the provision of the following:
Equipment for Upgrading Existing Landfillsto reduce or contain environmental impacts and for monitoring leachate.
Equipment for On-site Storage, Treatment, and Disposal of Hazardous Wastes.With the new regulations in effect shortly and the new hazardous waste landfill in Santiago slated to open, companies will be subject to increasing pressure to handle their wastes appropriately.
Efficient Incinerators and Other Technologies to Manage Hospital Wastes, particularly for the Santiago area.
Biosolids Management Technologies.
In addition, given the scarcity of hazardous waste treatment plants, disposal facilities will be required in Santiago and other regions, particularly when the new regulations are promulgated. Key regions with pressing need for such facilities include Region II, which generates a lot of mining waste, and Region VIII, which is known as a center for the manufacture of wood, paper, and iron products and for cellulose and cement production.