María Jesús Villota is the head of laboratory, environment and the water treatment line at the Sertego oil waste plant in the Port of Algeciras. She has been working at Sertego for more than 26 years, and is a renowned water treatment expert who places great importance to her professional development within her core values. She is proud to belong to a company that advocates sustainability every day and is constantly changing to improve and evolve. María Jesús, head of laboratory and environment and responsible for the water treatment line, looks at Sertego’s progress in the last 10 years and feels very optimistic. They maintain that research carried out at Sertego is reflected in new processes and equipment implemented. Improvements of the  recovered fuel and Sertego’s new facilities at the Port of Algeciras will lead to a greener, more sustainable future thanks to the work of her team.

María Jesús Martín Villota, Responsable de laboratorio, medioambiente y tratamiento de la planta de residuos oleosos de Sertego en el puerto de Algeciras.
María Jesús Villota, manager of laboratory, environment and and the water treatment line at the Sertego oil waste plant in the Port of Algeciras.

How did you start off at Sertego?

I am an Industrial Engineer and a Chemical Engineer. I have worked at Sertego since 1991, so I have been with them for 26 years. I worked for a few years in Valladolid, and I have been working in Algeciras since 2008 in the MARPOL Waste Plant at the Port of Algeciras.

How do you rate your years of experience at the company?

I really cherish it, because I have always been able to work in what I studied vocationally, and these days that is not easy. I consider myself to be a businesswoman, I place a great deal of importance to the professional side of my core values.

What do you feel most proud of about the company where you work?

I feel very accomplished, I have initiative in the development of projects, I implement new processes and methods… All that freedom makes me feel like my work is truly important. Plus, it isn’t monotonous at all, great part of my work is related to R&D… That excites me every day, and I know that is a privilege that I might not have at other jobs.

What has been the best moment in your 26 years of experience?

A very nice project was to participate in the study for the treatment of ship bilge water (waste generated from normal ship operations where liquids from the machine room, leaks, fuel waste, etc. are mixed). It was a project where we truly achieved results that no one in the sector had been able to achieve. A current project that I find exciting is the intensification of the quality standards of the fuel obtained.

How would you describe your responsibilities in your area? Tell us a little bit about your day-to-day.

At Sertego, I manage the water treatment line, I am the head of laboratory and environment. I collaborate by giving support to the Group’s other plants oriented to the treatment of bilge water and laboratory tests. Apart from research and development work, my day-to-day at the plant involves reviewing all of the water purification process operation parameters, controlling laboratory tests, both on plant waste discharges as well as the fuel we generate, which is why we control the quality of that fuel on a daily basis. I also respond to all the requirements that we have from the Environmental Administration and other Public Administrations.

What other projects have you been working on lately?

We have collaboration agreements with the Port of Algeciras for good practices and environmental improvement. The last two projects that we have been working on are plant deodorisation to reduce and eliminate odours and, once that is finished, we are taking on a second project for the cooling of process water with the use of seawater. Thanks to that project, we will be able to reduce and optimise our internal mains water consumption.

Where do you see the company in 10 years?

We are very active. Everything changes from one year to the next because it is very fast-moving. Laws change, new requirements spring up, and we have to lead the way… I look back and observe our progress over the last 10 years and I think its incredible. So, because of our day-to-day and our work philosophy, I am highly optimistic about the next 10 years.

What does Sertego contribute to sustainability?

We work to make our activity sustainable both in terms of regulatory compliance, as well as economic sustainability. It is a continuous line of work. We can’t lose sight of the horizon. We can improve our processes, and we can implement new technologies. We continue to invest in that, but we must be economically sustainable as well, and Sertego is.

What are the main challenges that modern society faces with respect to industrial waste?

We have to reach a point where we can reuse all waste. We have to move forward continuously, without taking a break, refocusing on waste recovery. There is so much work to do there! Our team is working towards it to improve sustainability, to care for the environment and join the fight against climate change.