Optimal waste management is a strategic target of Enel’s environmental policy (see point 5 of the environmental policy), enacted through specific areas of action, inspired by the community principles of Waste Hierarchy Prevention (reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery) and by the circular economy, that can be summed up as follows:
- reduce the quantity of waste produced. Enel has set objectives for the reduction of waste produced, as stated above in “target 2020 and 2030” referring to waste;
- reduction of the pollution burden of waste produced. Specific attention has been paid over the course of 2018 to the evaluation of the quantity of hazardous waste produced in the Group’s main geographic areas, in order to identify and pursue more targeted and effective projects for improvement. Priority focus has been assigned to waste derived from the management of electricity distribution grids and the recovery programs for such waste. The main hazardous waste consists of dielectric mineral oils, which are used as insulation for electrical equipment. Once these substances are classified as waste, they are managed and sent to companies that have the necessary authorizations/enrollments, from storage to transportation to final treatment.
Spent oils are normally subjected to regeneration or waste-to-energy treatment, in the event that regeneration is not applicable.
Another hazardous waste produced by the management of the grids consists of accumulators—used as an energy reservoir for transformer substations—once they are at the end of their life cycle. Once they are classified as waste, the accumulators are sent to authorized companies for the recovery of secondary raw materials;
- increase the quantity of waste destined for recovery. A fundamental role in this area is occupied by the recovery of waste from thermoelectric generation, given the significant quantities that stem from the generation process. These mainly include ashes from coal and chalks from desulfurization, which are reused in construction for the production of cements, concrete and bricks in accordance with specific technical and environmental specifications and controls.
Other forms of waste, such as spent oils, batteries and certain types of metals are also constantly and entirely destined for recovery. Relevant efforts have also been directed over the past year at guaranteeing the recovery of waste produced from the demolition of plants at the end of their life cycle, by adopting selective demolition techniques for the structures.
The results obtained by the Infrastructure and Networks Business Line, with the projects for the sustainable replacement of first-generation smart counters and the recovery of the materials initiated in the countries where it operates, were particularly significant. Specifically, in Italy in 2017, a campaign was started that affected an estimated 5.8 million smart meters and that is forecast to reach 31 million over the next 6 years. A counter is made up of about 65% plastic materials, while the rest is mainly iron (12%), copper (7%) and circuit boards (7%).
These materials, properly recovered at authorized plants, become resources that can be reused in other production cycles. To maintain a circular economy, non-plastic materials are also fully recycled: components of the electronic board, for example, are reused in the goldsmithing sector, copper is used to manufacture brass, iron is used for construction.
- Qualification of suppliers for waste disposal and recovery services. This activity is an integral part of an extended approach to the responsibility of the manufacturer, which Enel has set at the base of its waste management procedures.
In 2018, Enel produced nearly 9 mln t of waste, of which 98% was classified as non-hazardous. Waste produced by Group activities was all taken to authorized disposal sites where, based on its classification and in line with Group policies, recycling is always preferred and maximized. The amount produced decreased by 4.1% compared to 2017. This change is due to a lower production of waste from thermal power generation, in particular from coal-fired plants.
The waste sent for recovery across Enel accounted for 22.9% of the total waste produced, improving slightly on the figure for the previous year.
Compared to the data recorded in 2015, Enel has committed to achieving a 20% reduction of the amount of waste produced by 2020.
The target was set in light of the results achieved and the timetable laid down by the Business Plan for the next three years, which will see an evolution of the mix towards renewable energies and a reduction in generation from fossil fuels through a change in the perimeter of the production fleet. A further target has also been set for 2030 on the basis of the best forecasts currently available, setting an objective of 40% waste reduction compared to 2015.