Management and use of landfill gas in Chile

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Courtesy of ORBIT e.V.

According to the latest census there are 409 urban localities with a total population of 12,3 million people; of which 43% live in the city of Santiago, the nation’s capital. The garbage collection services collect 99.2% of the urban waste with an average of 8,650 tons of residues per day. Of the total residues collected through out the country, 85% receive a proper final disposal in sanitary landfill sites, there are 184 urban localities that have this type of facility.

The performance obtained in the management of a sanitary landfill site is variable, the highest output observed is in the city of Santiago, where the monthly average per tractor is 595 tons per day. The cost is also variable depending on the size and the complexity of the site, unit costs range from 6 to 12 US dollars per disposed ton.

The program to improve sanitary disposal of solid urban residues started in Chile with the opening of the La Feria sanitary landfill site in 1977, it received 60% of the solid residues from the city of Santiago at the time. One year later after the opening of La Feria a second sanitary landfill was opened, it was called Cerros de Renca. This site started to receive 30% of the residues, which at the time still did not have a final sanitary disposal. Finally at the begging of 1979 a third sanitary landfill called Lepanto began operations in order to absorb the remaining 10% of solid waste that was being produced by the city of Santiago.

Once the end of the exploitation life span was reached by the La Feria sanitary landfill, it was replaced by the Lo Errazuriz sanitary landfill in 1984. Lo Errazuriz remained operational up until the year 1997, being replaced by a new site called Las Bateas. Las Bateas now receives the majority of the solid residues that are produced nowadays in Santiago.

At the same time that these sanitary landfill sites were being exploited and with the experience gained in the operation of landfill sites in Santiago, the Ministry of Health formulates and puts into operation in 1980, the National Program for solid residues, establishing a program of priorities for sanitary landfill sites in different cities in the 13 regions of the country.

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