Feature: Machu Picchu recycling scheme strives for sustainability

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-22 16:32:31|Editor: mingmei
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by Jose Aguiar

LIMA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Peru's Machu Picchu is renowned for its ancient Inca ruins, but its zero-waste recycling program may soon be the site's new claim to fame.

This tiny mountaintop enclave has no less than three plants transforming waste into fuel, fertilizer or other useful material, with the latest plant opened in early April.

Jorge Lopez, corporate director of Communications and Sustainability for Peruvian beverage maker AJE Group, told Xinhua the goal of the ambitious recycling program is to make Machu Picchu a "model of sustainability" in the region by "managing all waste" and converting it into usable resources.

An organic waste processing plant began operation on April 5, converting three to four tons of waste per day into first biomass, then biocoal, which can be used to improve local agricultural output.

"Three tons of dry biomass are generated here daily. That is going to be used by the farmers of Machu Picchu to cultivate their lands," Lopez said.

The biomass will also be used to reforest the "marvelous sanctuary of Machu Picchu," with the cooperation of the state-run national service of nature reserves Sernanp, he said.

Ingrid Espinoza, a member of Peruvian food producer Alimenta Group, touted the effectiveness of the organic waste processing mechanism, or pyrolyzer, which uses heat.

Thanks to the pyrolyzer, organic material that would otherwise be burned and broken down into methane, can be turned into a useful material known as biochar, a carbon-rich fertilizer.

Any kind of organic material can be processed at the plant, from household and garden waste to forest pruning waste, as well as "all the biomass left over" from harvests, she said.

The biocoal obtained from the process can be used for reforestation or it "could be used as a filter to trap heavy metals or polluting substances," she added.

As part of the project launched in 2017, local officials also built a plastic waste compactor plant, "which largely helped solve the problem of mounting trash from the large number of tourists visiting the citadel of Machu Picchu," said Lopez.

Tourism means thriving hotels and restaurants, which in turn created a dilemma of disposing of massive amounts of cooking oil, so another plant was opened to transform the oil into biodiesel and glycerin. Enditem