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Making most of waste

Treating Amsterdam’s garbage at an AEB unit.

Treating Amsterdam’s garbage at an AEB unit.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sujay Mehdudia

Gold, silver, electricity and more from Amsterdam’s refuse

AMSTERDAM: With a spirit of zero waste tolerance, Amsterdam is making the most of waste. Its garbage has turned out to be a fortune for the City of Amsterdam Waste and Energy Company (AEB) which is tasked with turning refuse into sustainable energy and raw materials.

Apart from generating electricity for the city and the region from the daily waste generated, the recycled garbage is being treated to make building sand roads.

The company has also hit a sort of jackpot with 10 per cent of the recovery consisting of gold and silver along with other precious metals.

According to Afval Energie Bedrijf, senior communications adviser, N.R. Pattavina, the AEB has been seeking better technologies to improve the efficiency of its processes. Giving insights into the working of the unit during the visit of a group of Indian journalists to the treatment facility on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Ms. Pattavina said thermal energy produced by incinerating waste is converted into power and heat. And the residue of ‘bottom ash’ is a valuable source of metals and building materials such as sand, stone and gravel.

The AEB operates a modern depot for the collection and transfer of hazardous waste at the site.

Besides domestic chemical waste such as paint and batteries, on request it will pick up and process hazardous commercial waste such as chemicals and fire extinguishers from businesses.

Bulk items, discarded electrical appliances and other non-standard refuse are handed in at any of six Waste Points in the city.

The AEB is a municipal corporation owned by the City of Amsterdam and comprises five business units: the Waste-to-Energy Plant; the Waste Fired Power Plant; the Hazardous Waste Depot; the Amsterdam Regional Sorting Centre and the Waste Points.

“The company generates energy from waste. This is sustainable energy which does not consume fossil fuels. Not only do we not use natural resources, we reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We have minimised emissions to the air and ground water and we operate well below regulatory limits,” Ms. Pattavina said.

The plant treats the digested sewage sludge from the Waternet plant in a closed system to avoid any exposure. Operating permits and licenses. The company is ISO 14001-certified and the laid-down environmental management system not only helps it to meet statutory requirements with respect to health, safety and the environment, but encourages a constant review and improvement of performance.

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