garbage dump

Mexico City, the world’s seventh largest city, will close the world’s largest garbage dump by the end of 2012, instead turning trash from the city and surrounding area’s 20 million residents into renewable energy and reusable materials, according to Mayor Marcelo Ebrand.

Citing concerns over air and water pollution from the waste at Bordo Poniente, the dump site that has taken in more than 75 million tons of waste since 1985 is no longer allowing the fleet of 700 garbage trucks that would transport more than 12,600 tons of trash to the site daily since opening nearly 30 years ago.

With Bordo Poniente accounting for more than 1.5 percent of Mexico’s total greenhouse gas emissions, Mexico City officials began working on ways to reduce the city’s trash back in 2008 through parsing out the waste by designating certain organic matter for compost, and routing materials suitable for energy production to the proper facilities. By 2013, equipment will be functioning that can capture biogas generated from the decomposing waste for additional renewable energy generation, according to Mayor Ebrand.

Up from 6 percent in 2008, Mexico City now recycles nearly 60 percent and has begun discussions with scavengers who reclaim and resell reusable or recyclable materials. Additional support coming from local businesses (such as the large cement manufacturer Cemex) have committed to purchasing as much as 3,000 tons of the trash daily which will be converted into energy. And other area landfills will receive remaining refuse that cannot be recycled or composted.

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Image: Photocapy