TCVAL and Reuso: Environmental sustainability and collaboration

In its search for sustainable practices, TCVAL is working on an alliance with Reuso, , based on waste recovery and recycling, to encourage a local circular economy.

Since early 2018, the companies Terminal Cerros de Valparaíso (TCVAL) and Reuso have started up a strategic alliance, in order to improve waste management in the port terminal and encourage sustainability practices.

Once it became aware of the huge amount of waste it was generating and not handling, TCVAL began its search for an external company to withdraw and definitively remove the waste in a sustainable manner. This was how it found Reuso, a small environmental sustainability business in Valparaíso involved in managing the recovery and recycling of waste generated by households, institutions and industries.

“For some time now, we have focused on an actual view of what environmental management is. A few years ago we were certified in management rules and, since then, began to be truly aware of how to handle this environmental management improvement process. We eventually realized that our processes were generating a huge amount of waste, which was when we began searching for a company that could offer this management service”, states Mario Cárdenas, advisor in Risk Prevention & Environmental Matters at TCVAL.

This was how they reached Reuso; one of its greatest assets was the fact it was a local business. “As part of the company’s policies, we seek to prioritize local providers. Beyond being a small local business, they provided the perfect alternative to what we were looking for. They guaranteed recycling and recovery, whilst we segregated the waste. Then, they would transfer the waste to treatment plants. It was the alternative that was able to cover our needs”, adds Mario.

Reuso: waste management

The TCVAL terminal generates industrial waste, such as metal bands and lumber, and other household-equivalent waste, such as plastic, paper, cardboard, glass and cans, which Reuso is currently in charge of.

Catalina Herrera, general manager and founder of Reuso, points out that they are avoiding company waste “ending up in the sanitary landfill; we are talking about between 7 and 10 tons of waste/month, which previously reached dumpsites or the sanitary landfill, and which now are mostly recycled”.

Reuso’s proposal is basically aimed at assisting in the separation of waste and giving it a sustainable purpose. “For example, the wood left behind by ship cargo is used for compost. There, the wood returns to earth instead of ending up in the sanitary landfill, where it would also generate greenhouse gas. In turn, household-equivalent waste is being recycled”, adds Catalina.

In the management process, the first task is to train company staff with guidance on how to separate container trash. Furthermore, monthly recycling reports are provided, indicating the mass of each recycled waste, charts showing trends in time and bioequivalence; this information is later posted on Reuso’s website, itemizing how much water and energy has been saved, the total CO2 no longer issued and how many trees have been spared.

Local circular economy

For its recycling, Reuso works with Invitta, a sustainable urban fixture company which, as indicated on its website, transforms plastic waste into high-quality fixtures, in aesthetic and functional terms, with greater resistance to the passage of time and wear and tear in a salty environment, removing the need for constant replacement and thereby avoiding constructive waste.

“Some plastic is not locally recycled, which is why most recycling managers do not receive it. We try to generate a local circular economy, which is more sustainable; this is why we work with Invitta, which uses this plastic (mainly polypropylene) to make urban fixtures. Instead of recycling it, we recovery it: they gather and process it, and turn it into fixtures”, states Catalina.

In turn, Diego Villalobos, Invitta’s social coordinator, indicates that they have provided assistance to take over the plastic in this process. “We have a collection point for plastic, industrial waste, bottles and others. We are in the midst of purchasing a grinder, which will allow us to turn the waste into chips in order to be used in our fixtures, made of concrete and reinforced with recycled plastic, which is why this ingredient is vital for our products. We hope to have the machine running in a month and thus be able to collect a lot more plastic”.

The bond between TCVAL, a recognized company, and small local businesses and enterprises, is a big asset for Reuso. “This meeting point is great, as it promotes local surroundings. The company does not act like a typical multinational, eating up everything in its way, quite the opposite: it is making a local contribution, to a circular economy and its sustainability. It is a demanding company, which helps increase the quality of other people’s work. Recycling in general is an informal activity, which evidences the quality of the work and quality of life of its workers. All of us who work here, do so for a fair price; which is why a company that is willing to pay for the service betters the entire chain”, said Reuso’s founder.

The company TCVAL has already been working for four years in the Port of Valparaíso, and is today made up of close to 600 workers. In this regard, Mario Cárdenas points out that it is important to “understand that the process cannot be completed from one day to the next; very often it is longer than expected, as it entails changes in behavioral patterns that are highly important. The idea is to internalize and educate, making everyone aware of the three R’s (3R) and how important this is for future generations”.

Finally, Mario Cárdenas referred to how important this alliance with Reuso is for TCVAL, in order to “achieve our policy and focus: a commitment to the environment. It is part of us, as a company, to carry out our activity and daily work, in the understanding that this environmental fiber is inside us, and must be cared for. We consider that we were wrong when our waste ended up in a landfill which, ultimately, was not good for the environment. We need to change this course and generate concern, changing patterns, and right now we are in a recovery and recycling process; ideally, we would like to eventually reduce our waste”.

Of interest is the fact that during TCVAL’s four years of operation in the Valparaíso region, it has been certified under standards ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and the ISPS Code. It also participated in the International Fair on Logistics and Foreign Trade (FILCE), where it came first in the Green Leaf 2018 Prize due to implementing environmentally-friendly measures.

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