Amid the aroma of garbage that still perfumes the air around the Hiriya Recycling Park, government officials and relevant executives laid the cornerstone for a refusederived fuel plant that will eventually transform half of the Dan region’s waste into usable fuel.

“This is a project that is going to generate a whole revolution in the treatment of waste in the Dan area and the whole of Israel,” said Gila Oron, head of the Tel Aviv region at the Interior Ministry.

The cornerstone-laying for the giant plant occurred on Monday near its future site at the recycling park, during the First International Waste Tech Conference, initiated by the park and Dan Municipal Sanitation Association chairman Doron Sapir.

Aiming to provide solutions to the waste problem in Israel, the refuse-derived fuel (RDF) plant will take in daily 1,500 tons of high calorific waste – such as wood, plastic, textiles, cardboard and paper – and transform them into a usable fuel through a dry combustion process known as RDF, according to the project. This amount is equivalent to half of the Dan region’s daily waste production.

While the Gush Dan region generates more than 1 million tons of waste per year, the massive amounts of garbage undergoing the RDF process will be able to generate green energy through a method that does not emit any pollutants or toxins, the project’s leaders said.

At a cost of NIS 400 million, the plant is a tripartite project being launched by Hiriya Recycling Park, Veolia Environment and Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises.

“[The facility] is going to turn some of [the garbage] into solid fuel, RDF, which will be used as a substitute for oil products,” Oron said, noting that the fuel will in large part go to the Nesher cement plant.

Despite the fact that the plant’s approval took two years in the courts after receiving district committee approval in 2010, Oron stressed that the Interior Ministry supports the construction of the project as its regulator.

The establishment of the RDF facility embodies “the spirit of the times in which the state has hoisted the banner of the environment,” she added.

“The project is joining the forces of the private and the governmental sectors and produces another economic engine,” she said. “This place does not belong to any municipality.”

The new facility will encompass 21,000 square meters of land at the Hiriya Recycling Park site and will be operational for 20 years, according to Philippe Abraham, director of strategic planning at Veolia.

“That is diversion from landfills,” Abraham said. “That’s something you need to be proud of.”

All in all, the RDF plant will receive 540,000 tons of trash annually, making it the largest RDF plant in all of the Middle East and one of the largest such facilities in the world, according to Veolia.

Stressing the importance of using RDF as a fuel in the Nesher factories, Amit Marmur, Nesher’s environmental affairs manager, explained that using the fuel at the cement plants is both economically viable and safe.

Using RDF is quite common in cement plants, due to the fact that the cement kilns completely degrade any organic materials left in the material, Marmur added.

“We have one planet, we have limited resources and we are all responsible to manage them in an appropriate way,” he said. “We are following in the footsteps of many other factories and communities that have understood the value inherent in RDF.”

Nesher will be receiving 160,000 tons of RDF per year, which constitutes about 15 percent of the fuel usage in the company’s cement factories.

At the cornerstone-laying ceremony, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz praised the companies behind the future factory for bringing an effective end solution for waste to Israel.

“The process of waste separation at source is indeed beginning, but the big test is the establishment of the end facilities,” Peretz said.

Explaining that the Environmental Protection Ministry has recently invested a total of NIS 400m. in building such facilities across the country, Peretz added that these plants “will be the completion of the environmental revolution.”

Sapir, the chairman of the Dan Municipal Sanitation Association, which administers the Hiriya garbage transfer and recycling sites, said that he sees the launch of the future RDF facility as “an important moment” for the State of Israel.

He noted that the site’s environmental education center receives visitors from all around the world.

“These things together are proof that the Hiriya Recycling Park is nearing the completion of the green revolution that we are promoting,” Sapir added.

“This is proof that it is possible to transform garbage to gold and to transform waste from a nuisance into a resource.”

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