Recovering methane to fight climate change

More than anywhere else in the world, waste management in Latin America is a major environmental issue. According to a UN-Habitat study conducted in 2012, only slightly more than half (54%) of the waste produced in Latin America and the Caribbean is treated with appropriate control. And waste is directly related to population and economic growth, which in this region is still strong. Waste management solutions  that encourage sustainable growth and respect the environment are hugely required. 


Solutions that have already proved their worth

Funding is still of course the main obstacle to developing these solutions - in particular for medium sized Latin American cities. However, our globally recognized expertise and our knowledge of local markets enable us to offer our partners solutions that have already proven their worth, and for reasonable costs.
Veolia now operates solutions on behalf of municipalities focusing on the whole waste cycle, from collection to treatment, for example in Buenos Aires in Argentina  and Las Condes in Chile,  or on behalf of industrial customers, such as in Mexico. In order to maximize the recovery of recyclable materials we firstly encourage separate collection at source. It also means local authorities are able to work with informal operators - still significant in Latin America - and so ensure a high quality of service, while also contributing to equitable economic development in local areas. Secondly, we provide municipalities with our expertise in the construction and operation of landfills - an economically viable solution in the region. Treating leachates, optimizing production, processing and recovering of methane to produce biogas are key to fighting climate change.


Biogas – a source of energy ready to be developed

For example, we are starting recovering the biogas produced by the Queretaro landfill we operate in Mexico. The electricity generated will be used to power the city’s street lighting.
A number of projects are also being looked at with a view to re-injecting purified biogas into natural gas networks, or providing energy for local industries. This type of infrastructure requires major investment and adds to the need for public and private stakeholders to work together to create funding mechanisms that address the issues.