Pilar Fajardo, Director of the Sertego Waste Disposal Area
“WE ARE WORKING TOWARDS A CLEANER WORLD”
At the end of the industrial waste management process, professionals like Pilar Fajardo are responsible for safely and sustainably storing the small percentage of waste that is not able to be recovered. Pilar, a Biologist with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies, is proud of her place in the sustainability chain. She manages a total of six hazardous and non-hazardous industrial waste disposal centres in Spain.
November 2017 web copy
What are the responsibilities of the area you manage?
I am currently the Director of Sertego’s Industrial Waste Disposal Area. We operate six dump sites; two for hazardous waste, and the other four for non-hazardous waste. They are essentially final destinations, even though some facilities also have a treatment plant. Our fundamental mission is to coordinate the centres to work with a similar system.
Where are they located?
It is a small percentage, no more than 30%. Sertego dedicates a major part of its activity to recovery. However, Sertego actively looks for disposable waste to manage. Our points of contact are final treatment agents that have already completed their recycling or valuation process and have final waste that cannot be recovered. Right now, there is still a lot of waste that is not technically or economically viable to treat.
What kind of waste is that?
For example, there is a certain type of waste that is increasingly present at hazardous waste dump sites. That is waste containing asbestos. You can find asbestos in waterworks, warehouse roofing, wall insulation, and it is quite often used in trains. Ever since we discovered that asbestos is carcinogenic, the Ministry of Labour launched a major campaign to remove this type of material. Today, dump sites are the only place for this type of waste. It has to be confined, left in safe conditions, and isolated from the rest of the environment.
How long have you worked at Sertego?
I have worked from the start at Cetransa, which has been part of Sertego since 1993, so we could say I’ve spent my whole life here. When I finished my studies in Biology, I got my Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies, which I enjoyed. While studying, I remember that we came to visit the Valdebebas plant, which was the Community of Madrid’s physical and chemical plant. A woman was showing us around, and I thought: I want that job. When they opened the Valladolid plant and they called me, and I thought it was amazing. Then, in 2013, the exploitation of this physiochemical plant in Madrid was put out to tender for a short period until its scheduled closure, as well as the hazardous waste dump site in that community. Sertego won the bid, and I am responsible for the facilities, so I saw my wish fulfilled and much more….
How do you think the company has changed over the years?
In many ways. When I started working, there was the Community of Madrid dump site, the dump site in Asturias, and us in Valladolid. There wasn’t much more. Everything was new. When I talked to people in Asturias, they would ask us how to do things. There was already legislation, but very little. You had to set up a laboratory and would say, well, what do I put here? How do I do it? Now there is an infinite number of plants, facilities, and professionals that are extremely specialised. Laws have continued developing, and they have really changed the panorama. I wish that regulations and awareness had come along faster, but there is no doubt that major progress has been made.
Professionally speaking, what makes you proud?
This is my home. I have spent 25 years here. Sertego has been my work, and the development of my professional life. I look back and I am proud of everything that we have done and what we have learned. Then I see young people coming in what such enthusiasm. For me, that’s fundamental.
I place great value on this company’s enormous environmental consciousness, and its constant concern for workplace risk prevention. We are one step ahead.
Do you think society understands the importance of Sertego’s activity?
We try to work on that one day at a time. It is difficult for people to accept that dump sites are there, but they are facilities that are critical to sustainability. We love to take our cars to work, but we don’t want to have a dump site nearby. We love to open the tap and have water come out, but we don’t want a treatment plant nearby.
What are your goals for this year?
To meet budgets while taking care of the environment, that is the basis of sustainability. Of course, to avoid accidents and continue to do things well.
I would like…
For us all to raise our environmental awareness. Sometimes when we try to dispose waste, we produce another set of impacts on the environment, and the solution may be worse than the initial problem. Also, I would like to continue working here for the rest of my professional life. I would like to continue seeing how this project grows, and continue contributing to a cleaner world, which is what those of us dedicated to the environment are working towards.