Recycling to extend life cycles
Every May 17, World Recycling Day is celebrated around the world as a reminder of how important it is to recycle waste to reduce its environmental impact. Tecpetrol has implemented many actions throughout its operations, with an emphasis on those carried out at El Tordillo.
May 17 is World Recycling Day, a date set by UNESCO in 2005 to encourage people to adopt recycling practices as a basic habit throughout society. Recycling means reducing the volume of waste generated and minimizing our carbon footprint, and it applies to everybody living on this planet. When we throw something away, or have to deal with garbage disposal, we need to bring to mind the 4R rule and ask ourselves if that’s possible:
- reduce: reduce the amount of waste produced
- recycle: repurpose waste to turn it into a new, different product
- recover: reuse waste by introducing or adding it to a new process either directly or by treating it first
- reuse: use it again in a different way
Handling waste properly and educating people to take a fresh approach to their consumption models are practices that involve society as a whole. For companies, this takes the form of correct waste management, which involves planning the operations used to treat waste throughout its life cycle.
"At Tecpetrol, we have a Corporate Waste Management Critical Operational Standard which has been regionally and locally adapted to meet the specific needs of each operation," explained Stephen Wharton, head of Corporate Environment at Tecpetrol.
The company aims to ensure that a thorough survey of the materials used in its operations is carried out on all projects as a first step. "Waste segregation processes are routinely performed on all work fronts and any waste products considered suitable are sent to recycling centers, inasmuch as is possible," he added. If these centers exist and include the right procedures and mechanisms, then the waste products can be recycled; if not, they are disposed of at authorized landfills.
Waste traditionally recycled or reused is known as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). During 2021, Tecpetrol produced 1,174 tons of waste of which 223 tons, 19%, were recycled.
“Another major waste stream with an effective life after treatment is drill cuttings and drilling mud,” added Wharton. "After being treated to make sure these are safe, they can be used as filler materials to restore degraded sites, such as abandoned quarries," he exemplified.
Deploying the 4R rule at El Tordillo
The impact of recycling within the company is particularly visible at the El Tordillo field whose waste management processes draw on the entire spectrum of the 4Rs. Waste is classified and stored in a special yard to be subsequently delivered as a donation.
“The results of our field waste management tracking system are indicative of our good progress; for instance, we are currently recycling over 70% of our MSW,” said Lucía Pujana, head of Environment for the San Jorge Gulf Basin. “We’ve achieved these results thanks to thorough classification processes at source, including the detailed categorization of different waste streams for subsequent treatment. Organic waste is composted on our premises, producing high-quality fertilizer; inorganic products are segregated into different recyclable streams and delivered to the recycling plant, while the rest of the non-recyclable inorganic products (less than 30% of the total) are sent to landfill,” she explained.
"Regardless of how encouraging our results are, there’s always room for improvement," Pujana pointed out, "and we always emphasize the fact that this task demands everyone's collaboration."