The district of Sant Cugat del Valles is situated close to Barcelona in the heart of Catalonia. It is home to a population of 86,000 inhabitants. The management of waste collection in Sant Cugat is a very important task. The district needs the latest specification equipment for delivering an integrated waste management system to both residents and tourists all year round, writes Tim Byrne, a chartered waste manager.

In 2011 Sant Cugat awarded a ten year waste collection contract to private contractor Valoriza Medioambientals. This contract included developing, in conjunction with the municipality, three new methods of collecting waste and recyclables using side loader, underground container system, and, in some residential areas, collection of waste and recyclables in bags. Waste collection is carried out by zoning different areas of the district, so that all waste fractions, for example, side loader and underground container collection will be completed in one area simultaneously.

A considerable investment in new waste collection equipment has been made by Sant Cugat with the contract awarded to Geesinknorba Spain. This decision was made taking into account the reliability of their products as well as reduced whole life costs in maintaining the equipment. Previously, waste had been mainly collected in the district by rear loading type collection vehicles, although several side loader collection vehicles had been used for collecting residual waste. The decision was made to increase the side loader service for a variety of reasons: all types of waste could be collected using a variety of container sizes which look aesthetically pleasing to residents and tourists; significant savings could be made in labour costs, since a side loader only requires a driver, compared to the rear loader system which requires a driver and up to two operatives. Waste is collected six days a week in Sant Cugat, and a side loader collection vehicle can, for example, collect residual waste at night and in the early hours, while the recyclables, can be collected during the day.

Sant Cugat is the first municipality in Europe to purchase five electric side loaders manufactured by AMS through their Spanish distributor Geesinknorba Spain. The specifications of the new side loader equipments comprise four CL1 electric 22 cubic metres and one 27 cubic metre capacity unit. Both of these have the capability of emptying static containers from 2,200 ' 3,200 litre capacities and collecting all waste types. The new equipments lifting arms can be very flexible in lifting the two types of containers used.

The key reasons to purchase these electric units was based on the longstanding relationship that Sant Cugat has with Geesinknorba Spain, as well as the known reliability of the AMS products high performance levels in other Spanish municipalities. Another reason for buying the AMS units was because the municipality wanted both day and night collections, low noise emission vehicles were essential. Finally, the synetic energy produced by the vehicles' braking system is partially used to provide electricity to operate the container lifting, compaction equipment and all other mechanical functions of the AMS equipment, thus reducing emissions and the carbon footprint.

As well as purchasing five AMS CL1 electric units, Sant Cugat also purchased two of the normal side loader units which are hydraulically operated. These are of the CL1-N type and have been supplied in two sizes, 17 and a 22 cubic metre capacity. These, too, have the capability to lift and empty containers of 2,200 and 3,200 litre capacities. All of the new AMS side loader units have been mounted onto Renault Premium 18 tonne 4x2 and 6x2 26 tonne rear steer chassis. The chassis have engine sizes of 310 and 340 horsepower. To ease driver fatigue, all of the new chassis have the Allison 3000 series automatic transmission fitted. This also reduces whole life costs in the stop and start operation of waste collection. A further addition to the side loader vehicles is a weighing system fitted by AMS. This helps to keep the new collection vehicles legal, as well as calculating the tonnages collected. The AMS CL1-N type units have a desired rev setting of 900rpm to help save fuel and to reduce emissions.

The new AMS units collect organic and recyclable glass in 2,200 litre containers, while the residual waste, plastic, paper and cardboard recyclables are collected in 3,200 litre containers. These containers are placed at communal collection points in the town centre, residential and suburban areas. All containers have an opening handle at the bottom to help the elderly and infirm open the containers easily. Residents can place their waste into the containers and can separate their recyclables into the correct container types for collection. A variable compaction system has been fitted in each side loader by AMS. This is to reduce the breakage of glass in the collection process, helping to maintain its quality for reprocessing. This system can also be used when collecting organic waste, so that excess leachates are not produced through the compaction process, and enabling the organic fraction to be reprocessed into a quality compost material.

As well as the purchase of seven new side loaders, Geesinknorba Spain has also supplied eight additional collection vehicles of varying specifications. To support the increase in using the side loader system, Sant Cugat purchased three Geesinknorba MF300 split fraction waste collection vehicles of 70/30 commodity from Geesinknorba Spain. Two of these units are the 13H25 model of 13 cubic metre capacity mounted on a Renault Premium chassis of two axle configuration of 18 tonnes gross vehicle weight. The chassis feature a 310 horsepower engine and Allison transmission. The last and largest MF300 unit is the 22H25 unit of 22 cubic metre capacity mounted onto a Renault Premium 6x2 rear steer chassis of 26 tonnes gross vehicle weight. This unit features a 310 horsepower engine and Allison transmission.

All of the MF300 units feature the Geesinknorba L200 bin lift which can empty 80 ' 360 litre containers in the 30% fraction while containers of 80 ' 1100 litre capacity can be emptied in to the 70% fraction. These split fraction units provide two services: to collect excess waste placed next to side loader containers at communal collection points in the suburbs of Sant Cugat and to collect bagged waste from residents in some residential areas where a sack collection system is best suited.

Split fraction units were purchased to enable excess waste and recyclables placed at communal collection points, to be sorted into residual waste fraction or recyclable commodities commingled, for example, plastic, paper, cardboard and glass. These could be delivered to the recycling facility for reprocessing instead of being destined for residual waste treatment. The split fraction units are also used for the collection of residual waste and the organic fraction which is normally placed in the 30% fraction. This collection service is operated using a driver and one collection operative.

Sant Cugat has invested in a new underground container system using three, four and five cubic metre containers. To empty these the municipality has purchased three Geesinknorba GPM III KT1 18L25 (eighteen cubic metre) capacity units mounted on Renault Premium 6x2 rear steer chassis of 26 tonnes gross vehicle weight complete with Allison transmission. The equipments are fitted with a truck mounted crane of 18 tonnes safe working load to enable the driver and operative to lift the containers and discharge their contents into the hopper of the KT1 waste collection unit. The underground system uses a loading aperture for the three waste commodities collected - glass and organic waste in a three cubic metre container, residual waste in a four cubic metre container and plastics paper and cardboard in a five cubic metre container. Residents place their waste and recyclables into a loading aperture at street level where it falls into the containers at basement level. Once the KT1 collection vehicle arrives, the driver and operative open the loading aperture electrically and lift the containers to street level for discharging into the KT1 hopper using the truck mounted crane. Once the containers are emptied, they are returned to their respective places. The loading apertures are closed, allowing fresh waste and recyclables to be deposited by residents.

Both the Geesinknorba KT1 and the MF300 units have the Smartpack system fitted which gives a 20% fuel efficiency saving when the equipment is in operation, as well as reducing noise and emissions.

Finally, Geesinknorba Spain has supplied two 5000 Compacto waste collection vehicles of 10 cubic metres capacity supplied by AMS mounted onto a Dulevo hydrostatic chassis of 13 tonnes gross vehicle weight. They have a sealed body of one piece construction, and can collect a variety of wastes, residual, recyclables and organic fraction. Because of the unit's one piece construction, when used to collect organic waste, it will retain all of the leachates produced in the compaction process. The Compacto has a compaction ratio of 5.1, and has a lifter which can handle containers from 80 ' 1100 litre capacities. These units are used in Sant Cugat to collect residual and organic waste, paper and cardboard, plastic and glass from the town centre areas, where there is restricted access for a larger collection vehicle. The units also service side loader containers and collect excess waste and recyclables placed next to them on collection routes near to the town centre. The service is manned with a driver and one operative.

All of the fifteen new collection vehicles feature a GPS system, supplied by MOBA, giving geographical data showing where vehicles are working at a certain time throughout the district. It can also reproduce a map of the collection route, for use by both management working in the field and spare drivers covering a collection route when the regular driver is absent. Intensive training in conjunction with both Geesinknorba Spain and AMS has been provided to both management and operatives for the new equipments. This was provided over a week to ensure that all management, drivers and operatives were familiar with the new equipment before taking it out into the field.

Most collection vehicles collect two loads of waste and recyclables daily and it is delivered to Ecoparc two at Montcada. Once the vehicles arrive at the facility they are weighed on a computerised weighbridge where their payload and gross vehicle weight is recorded. The vehicles go to the tipping hall, but first have to enter two sealed doors which contain the odour from the residual waste fraction in the tipping hall. Once the collection vehicles have arrived in the tipping hall, they discharge their loads into a storage bunker. There are two separate bunkers, one for residual waste, and one for organic waste.

A crane with grab lifts both waste types and places it into the various treatment lines. Residual waste is sorted by hand using a conveyor system and the recyclables are separated into their respective types for transport to processing facilities. The organic fraction enters a series of composting tunnels where the material is subject to biological breakdown and turned into compost. Non recyclable materials are baled and transported to municipal incineration plants with energy recovery at Tersa ' Barcelona City, Mataro and Tarragona for use as a secondary recovered fuel / refuse derived fuel in the energy production process. Organic waste is transferred from the waste storage bunker and enters an anaerobic digestion facility on site, with the eventual output being a compost digestate for use in the farming industry.

The biomethane captured from the digestion process is exported to the national grid for electricity generation. Recyclables delivered to the Ecoparc are discharged into various bunkers in their respective types for transport to processing plants. Once all vehicles have emptied they return to the weighbridge to collect their weighbridge ticket, showing their net payload and their overall gross vehicle weight before leaving site and continuing their collection route.

In conclusion, Sant Cugat has the most modern fleet of waste collection vehicles currently available on the market. With reduced emissions, fuel savings and reduced labour costs, the new collection vehicles will provide a sustainable waste collection system to Sant Cugat for many years to come.