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ReIntegrate System. Model for the reduction of environmental impact on a sectorial basis (Reintegra)
Date du début: 3 sept. 2001, Date de fin: 2 sept. 2004 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background Waste matter in the wood sector can be classified into two main groups: dangerous and inert. In 1999, the annual production in Spain in was 2,582,293 tonnes of inert waste – including shavings, sawdust, wood remnants and wood derivative remnants – and 2,121,169 tonnes of dangerous waste – including water, sludge, muds, solvents, and plastic and metal packaging. Environmental problems have emerged in the sector through the lack of a sector model facilitating the reduction of inert waste and for making the most efficient use of existing ‘waste’ products at specific points of the cycle. Furthermore, a feature of most of the companies in the wood sector in Spain is that they are small in size - 96 percent have less than 20 employees - geographically dispersed and with a lower level of technology than in other industrial sectors. These SMEs and micro-companies have greater difficulties in adapting their processes to apply good environmental practices. As an example of this problem, in 2000, there was still no Spanish company in the sector with Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) certification. Objectives The general objectives of the 'Reintegra' project were to reduce the production of inert waste in the wood cycle and to 're-integrate' all wood waste generated - at any point in the production cycle - back into the industrial process. The project would attempt to identify any source of waste not being used or being under-used and increase the efficiency of its use. This would lengthen the life cycle of wood and decrease the sector's ecological impact. It aimed to develop systems for the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste and sub-products applicable to the sector such as to optimise the use of these materials, either in production processes in the same sector or in related sectors. It sought to generate specific tools, mechanisms and support materials that could be used by SMEs in the sector to increase the efficiency of their use of wood and reduce their overall ecological impact regardless of their specific activity, size or location. Results The project created important tools and instruments to guide and inform the introduction of changes in the activities of companies throughout the wood chain to reduce their environmental impact in the future. The project identified - through diagnosis and analysis - the main environmental impacts of the industrial wood sector in Spain. It examined the existing and potential raw materials of the wood-chain activities as well as the productive processes and generated waste. This led to the elaboration of ideas and suggestions for possible practical improvements for each sub-sector of the wood industry. Around 100 companies carried out pilot tests of the best ideas for improvement at their particular level of operation. These included the use of low-toxicity raw materials, optimising the wood transformation processes and cooperating in the organisation of an optimised system of waste collection and disposal. These confirmed the viability and effectiveness of the different methods and allowed the project team to improve some of the recommendations where appropriate. These conclusions were integrated into a global model covering all sub-sectors of the wood chain - the ‘Reintegra manual’. This provides guidance on practical, affordable measures to be taken to improve wood companies’ environmental performance. The project developed two computer programmes: one to allow a cost-benefit analysis of implementing changes; and one to allow a self-diagnosis of the efficiency and environmental impact of existing practices. These have the purpose of raising awareness amongst SMEs - who tend to be hesitant in introducing change if they cannot see an immediate benefit for themselves - of both the desirability and the ease and cost-effectiveness of implementing changes. Many companies who took part in the pilot experiments decided to continue using the implemented changes and it is hoped that their example will spread to others in the sector. In principle, any company in the wood sector in any country could significantly reduce the environmental effect caused by its production processes by following the suggestions described in the manual for its particular sub-sector. Furthermore, the project methodology is transferable to other industrial sectors.


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