Upgraded waste management facilities for central Slovenia

RCERO Ljubljana has upgraded waste management facilities serving 37 municipalities in central Slovenia by creating a new landfill area, and building waste treatment facilities. The facilities treat mixed municipal and biological waste to create fuel, wood, compost and other materials, as well as to generate energy. They also help to cut ground water contamination, greenhouse gas emissions and landfill use.

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Interior of the new Ljubljana waste management centre ©Nina Sankovič Interior of the new Ljubljana waste management centre ©Nina Sankovič

" RCERO Ljubljana is the largest cohesion environmental project in Slovenia, combining 37 municipalities. In one of the largest centres in Europe, which deals with a third of all waste in Slovenia, state-of-the-art sustainable technology is used to process waste in facilities for mechanical biological waste treatment. The project is one of the best examples of regional cooperation in Slovenia due to the large number of municipalities – representing as much as a third of the Slovenian population – relying on the facility's services. "

Nina Sankovič, Snaga public waste disposal company, Ljubljana

The RCERO Ljubljana project involves upgrades to regional waste management facilities serving 37 municipalities in central Slovenia. It is made up of three sub-projects: a new landfill area; a treatment plant for leachate, which is liquid that has percolated through solid matter and contains constituents of that matter; and waste treatment facilities.

The new landfill area has been in use since 2009, the leachate treatment plant started operating in January 2011 and the waste treatment facilities were completed in October 2015. The amount of waste processed at the new facilities that end up in landfill is below 5 % – the rest is recycled for use by industry as raw materials or as an energy source.

Treatment of two types of waste

RCERO Ljubljana performs mechanical biological treatment of two types of waste: biological waste collected separately, and mixed municipal waste. Waste is also taken in bulk and sorted. The facilities can process 150 000 tonnes of mixed waste and over 20 000 tonnes of biological waste a year.

The aim of the treatment is to reduce the quantity of waste going into landfill, to separate waste which can be recycled or thermally treated in incineration plants, such as metal and glass, and to produce compost from biological waste for use in gardening and landfill maintenance. It involves mechanical separation of mixed municipal waste followed by preparation of solid fuel, and breaking down of biodegradable municipal waste and fermentation of separately collected biological waste to produce biogas.

Each year, the facilities produce 60 000 tonnes of solid fuel, 35 000 tonnes of digestate (material remaining following the breakdown of mixed municipal waste), 6 000 tonnes of wood, 7 000 tonnes of compost and 25 000 tonnes of waste that can be recycled to generate raw materials. They also generate 17 000 megawatt hours (Mwh) of renewable electrical energy and 36 000 Mwh of heat energy from biogas. The energy generated is used in the facility and some of the equipment in the administrative building is made from waste materials.

State-of-the-art facilities

The waste treatment facilities, located near Ljubljana, are among the most modern in Europe and the biggest of their kind in Slovenia in terms of budget and capacity. Owing to the advanced technologies used, the project has helped to cut surface and groundwater contamination by water leaching from landfill, greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, and odours from the decomposition of biodegradable waste. It has also brought about a six-fold reduction in waste ending up in landfills.

A third of Slovenia's population, some 700 000 people, now have a long-term solution to their waste management issues. Given the number of municipalities involved, the project is a good practice example in terms of cooperation among local authorities.

The RCERO Ljubljana project involves upgrades to regional waste management facilities serving 37 municipalities in central Slovenia. It is made up of three sub-projects: a new landfill area; a treatment plant for leachate, which is liquid that has percolated through solid matter and contains constituents of that matter; and waste treatment facilities. The new landfill area has been in use since 2009, the leachate treatment plant started operating in January 2011 and the waste treatment facilities were completed in October 2015. The amount of waste processed at the new facilities that end up in landfill is below 5 % – the rest is recycled for use by industry as raw materials or as an energy source.