Waste Treatment Facility of the Vallès Occidental, Vacarisses, Spain


The roof of the facility overlooking the green mountains.

Year: 2010


Type of system: Centralized

Climate: Mediterranean Climate

Area: 9.17 acres

Scale: Regional

Type of waste treated: organic, glass, cans, paper and cardboard (see RESTA waste)

Amount of waste diverted (tons/yr): 245.000 tn/year

Amount of organic waste reconverted: 20.000 tn/year

Amount of wastewater treated: 10,850 gal/day

Amount of energy produced (biogas): 3.5 MW

01.1 Introduction

The project selected is a centralized waste management project that was picked because illustrate been part of a revolutionary new model of waste management system, and in this way, decentralized the whole traditional operation. This facility is also the key element of this wider plan, promotes and reinforces the practices of the selectively of waste by the citizen of the region, who sees that the system is working, and at the same time, creates a whole transform regular garbage into a resource which can be exploited by various stakeholders. As it is described on the web page of the Consortium of Waste Management of Valles Occidental; “The Waste Treatment Facility allows the  region to carried out major paradigm shift in the management of the waste” (Occidental, 2013).


01.2 Background

In 2009 from the total waste generated in Catalonia, 37.6% was selectively collected, according to municipal councils, this was above the average for the rest of Spain (17%), and the countries of the OECD (30%).  The tendency is that the citizen are becoming more aware and participatory in the reduction and waste management, and therefore, the Government is promoting a model of waste management based on prevention and recycling  (Occidental, 2013).

To generate a real change, the idea was by keep increasing the percentage of selective waste collection it was necessary to establish a general plan to overlook the system and establish a treatment center that can assimilate and enlarged these changes.

After the debate was started, the requirement to build an infrastructure lead into the conception of creating a cutting edge building, and at the same time could be capable of engaging the whole system.

he Facility carry out the treatment of the RESTA waste, which distinguishes and defines the Catalan Model of waste management. Thus, treating the waste that can not be collected separately is possible to get this material back to the production cycle, which helps to minimize waste who was going to its final destination (Occidental, 2013).

The facility, located in the municipality of Vacarisses, explains the firm commitment of the government in the implementation of a model of sustainable waste management, modern and innovative (Archdaily, 2011)

The RESTA (Catalan word) term used to describe mixed waste that still contains materials recoverable: organic, glass, cans, paper and cardboard (Occidental, 2013).

The facility is also part of a set of actions in the region, other facilities such as a composting plant, a landfill are also in the surroundings. The facility produces biogas (methane), recirculate its water and filtrates from the rain on the roof.

01.3 Location – Climate Zone


Photo source: Google maps


Photo source: Google maps

02.1 Type of system, Scale, Dimensions



02.2 System description general scheme

Recycling treatment, organic waste treatment, and wastewater treatment are treated under the same roof so the facility can improve its productivity and diversify its resources. The following scheme shows the description of the integrated system.


02.3 System description

After describing the general scheme of the system, then each of the five steps taken to transform different types of waste are shown:







03.1 Amounts

  • Amount of waste diverted
    • RESTA waste: 245.000 tn/year
    • Organic waste: 20.000 tn/year
  • Amount of wastewater treated
    • 10,850 gal/day
    • 3’962.580 gay/year
  • Amount of water collected in roof
    • 10,850 gal/day
    • 3’962.580 gay/year
  • Amount of energy produced (biogas)
    • 30’660,000 kWh/year

04.1 Other Benefits

Some other benefits related to the implementation of this project are:

  • Closure and recovery of the 30 years old landfill of Coll Cardús. The facility is located at the former site of the landfill proving to be an example of environmental recovery and image of waste collection.
  • Implementation of 5,000 jobs while the facility was under construction, and 2,500 jobs (direct and indirect) during its operation.
  • Creating a distinctive building for the facility enables the agencies and the government to shown a new image of the process of waste collection and treatment. It also serves as a reference and point of attraction, which according to the sources it will be a central point of a future park for the region. Thus, a process that was previously related to pollution, dirt, and other negative features, now becomes a space of congregation and recreation. Lastly, in that sense, the government can carry out education programs and favorable public perception of the funds invested.
  • Enables the decentralization of investment, the state invests tax money but the recovery goes for many actors. Garbage is not longer consider waste but becomes a new resource.

05.1 Stakeholders involved


06.1 Possible implications

The facility has a considerable size that makes us wonder about the viability of this kind of project in other regions, some implications from the case study are:

  • The Waste Treatment Facility can be considered huge, without proper management, it can result in a problematic that could affect an entire region. Are there contingency plans in case of total or partial paralysis? 
  • Citizens and their attitude and commitment by the separation of the waste are the essential elements of the system. Can the government keep waste separation policies, and achieve sustained and sustainable growth?
  • The case study is applicable for an entire region with specific conditions. What if another region wants to apply it too, Would it have the same result? Is this example replicable elsewhere?

07.1 Necessary polices – Resources in place

For the management and preservation of the construction of the Waste Treatment Facility of Vallès Occidental, the government creates the Consortium of Waste Management of Valles Occidental, and their work is covered under the Regional Plan for Municipal Waste Management Infrastructure. This plan was approved by Decree on February 16, 2010 (Occidental, 2013).

This plan was established for the first time in Spain, and as model the European Union provides support for future possible repetition of this example.

The resources employed are used to fulfill the objective of achieving the self-sufficiency of the waste management in the different geographical areas. In this matter, taxpayers proved the success of the facility by seen the success of the facility.

The Regional Plan will also allow the development and implementation of waste management which includes all actions related to waste in cities and rural areas.

08.1 Cost of implementation

  • The Regional Plan of Infrastructure
    • 1.187 billion euros = 1.308 billion US dollar
  • Waste Treatment Facility of Vallès Occidental
    • 74`000.000 euros = US$ 81’550.000

08.2 Time range


08.3 Selection of case study,  phasing and comparison

Being a regional facility turns the case study into an example of large-scale projects that can be thought of in two ways.

First, they can replace similar conventional equipment that by its traditional conception does not attract the attention of authorities and urban developers. If an equipment of such magnitude becomes a point of attention for its environmental renewal and other benefits, it is proving an example that in other regions with similar facilities the effect may be similar.

Second, because the installation was designed to take advantage of garbage production in the Valles Occidentales region, the revenue that generates and the location where it is located receives particular attention. In this way, the facility creates jobs for the community, and become a destination for visitors and educational programs. Also the renewal of an old infrastructure which had polluted the area for many years ago now becomes a new green park for the enjoyment of the locals and foreign visitors. If this equipment were a conventional waste treatment plant with no particular interest, the town of Vacarisses would hardly enjoy the advantages indicated.

These aspects can be considered for various places elsewhere, including the region of Pittburgh, where their landfills have similar dimensions, and where environmental recovery, investment and the attraction of capital is very necessary.

The convertion of the old landfill in the future:


By taken screenshot from the case study and two landfills in the region of Pitsburgh, we can see that the scale of the three sites are more o less the same, and it that way, a project like Vacarisses could potentially be located in Western Pennsylvania too.

Waste Treatment Facility of Valles Occidental, photo 2015, source google maps, scale 500 ft


Waste landfill Monroeville, photo 2016, source google maps, scale 500 ft


Waste landfill Republic Services, photo 2016, source google maps, scale 500 ft


09.1 Bibliography – Research sources

Archdaily. (2011, 12 12). Waste Treatment Facility / Batlle & Roig Architects. Retrieved 10 10, 2016, from Archdaily: http://www.archdaily.com/191295/waste-treatment-facility-batlle-roig-architects

Occidental, C. p. (2013, 09 23). Consorci per a la Gestió de Residus del Vallès Occidental. Retrieved 10 10, 2016, from Centre de Tractament de Residus del Vallès Occidental – (CTR-Vallès): http://www.cresidusvoc.cat/crvo/apartats/index.php?apartat=152


Group members Lu Zhu – Paul Moscoso






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