L’Arca del Maresme, based in Argentona, Spain, is a private company that has specialised in providing environmental services for the Comarca del Maresme region of Catalonia on the northern coast of the province of Barcelona since 1997. The company provides waste collection and street and beach cleaning services and operates household recycling centres and waste transfer station contracts for the Comarca del Maresme municipalities.

In July 2014, L’Arca del Maresme won the waste collection and street cleansing contract for the municipality of Argentona in the Comarca del Maresme region of Catalonia. The contract is initially for four years, with the option of an extension for an additional two years. It involves collecting nonrecyclable waste, organic waste and dry recyclables from a population of 12,000 people as well as providing street cleaning services using manual labour and mechanical sweeping equipment.

As part of the new contract, the company also empties all of the litter bins in the streets of the municipality using a fleet of small Piaggio collection vehicles.


Waste collection in Argentona differs from nearby cities and towns. L’Arca del Maresme carries out a door-to-door waste collection service for 75% of the municipality’s population. This involves collecting nonrecyclable waste in plastic sacks and dry recyclables, such as paper, cardboard, plastic (including polyethylene terephthalate [PET], high-density polyethylene [HDPE], Tetrapack and low-density polyethylene [LDPE]) and commingled steel and aluminium tins and cans in categorised containers.

Organic compostable waste also is collected. Residents place this material in storage containers ranging from 10 to 25 litres in capacity that have a lid to prevent foul odours from being produced in the warm Mediterranean climate.

Light coloured green igloos are placed along the streets in Argentona to accept commingled coloured glass bottles and jars.

The door-to-door collection system in Argentona was one of the first to be introduced by a municipality in Catalonia. It has been in operation since the previous waste collection contract was awarded to L’Arca del Maresme in 2004.

The nonrecyclable waste fraction is placed in a dark green coloured 1,000-litre container. Recyclable paper and cardboard are placed into blue 3.5-cubic-metre containers, while plastic and steel and aluminium cans are placed into 3.5-cubic-metre yellow containers.

A light green coloured igloo is placed in a communal point for the collection and storage of commingled glass.

Two spokespeople, one from the municipality of Argentona and the other from L’Arca del Maresme, explain, “Argentona is one of the top 10 to 15 municipalities in Catalonia, achieving consistently high tonnages of high-quality dry recyclables. This compares with other Spanish cities and towns where 65% to 85% of waste is collected using communal collection points [that are] only achieving a 35% to 40% recycling rate.”

The municipality of Canet de Mar in Catalonia, which has a population of 15,000 people, also is using a door-to-door selective collection system to increase recycling rates, while Vic municipality, which has a population of 40,000 people, now is implementing a door-to-door collection system. This is to increase the tonnage and the quality of recyclables collected, which will reduce disposal costs for the nonrecyclable waste fraction.


To help reduce traffic congestion, L’Arca del Maresme collects 75% of the community’s waste at night through the door-to-door collection service.

Residents are required to place their plastic sacks that contain nonrecyclable waste and their dry recyclables and organic waste containers out for collection between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Two rear-loading vehicles, each manned by a driver and two operators, commence collection at 10 p.m.

A smaller vehicle is used to collect waste from the narrow streets in the centre of the town that are inaccessible by larger collection vehicles, while a larger vehicle collects waste from the periphery of the town. Both vehicles finish their collection rounds in approximately three hours.

The remaining 25% of waste and recyclables are collected in Argentona from the 1,000-litre green containers and from the 3.5-cubic-metre blue and yellow containers at communal collection points in the daytime.

The light green igloos containing glass are emptied across the whole of the municipality in the daytime using a roll-off vehicle with an open-top container and truck-mounted crane. This vehicle is manned only by a driver.

By the end of 2015, Argentona municipality had requested that L’Arca del Maresme implement door-to-door selective collection to the remaining 25% of properties within the municipality to help increase its recycling rate.

Currently, the 75% of residents served by a door-to-door selective collection system in the municipality achieve a 70% recycling rate. With the remaining 25% of residents in Argentona switching from using communal collection points to the door-to-door selective collection system, the municipality’s recycling rate is expected to increase to 80%. This compares with an overall recycling rate of 39% for the other Catalonian municipalities that still use communal collection points for nonrecyclables and dry recyclables.

Residents can place certain waste streams out for collection on certain days. Nonrecyclable waste is collected once per week, while the organic fraction is collected three times per week, with this extending to four times per week for the months of June through September because of odours produced from the putrescible food waste fraction. Paper and cardboard are collected once a week, and plastics, steel and aluminium tins and cans are collected twice weekly.

For commercial businesses, such as shops, bars and restaurants, nonrecyclable waste is collected in plastic sacks, while recyclables are collected in containers. The food waste fraction can be collected in containers that are 25-, 40-, 60-, 120- and 240-litres, depending on the volume of food waste produced by the business.

L’Arca del Maresme collects the food waste from commercial producers five days per week, while nonrecyclable waste is collected once per week, and paper, cardboard, plastic and steel and aluminium tins and cans are collected twice a week.

Glass is deposited by commercial producers in the light green coloured igloos positioned in the streets of the municipality.

The nonrecyclable waste is delivered by night and by day to the Mataro incinerator plant, which disposes of all waste produced in the Comarca del Maresme region. The plant was constructed in 1994 and has 219,410 tonnes of capacity. It produces 8.5 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity that is exported to the local electricity network.

In light of the high gate fees for disposing of nonrecyclable waste at the incineration plant, the municipality of Argentona and L’Arca del Maresme have strong information campaigns to educate the public to recycle more. This reduces the municipality’s cost of sending waste for incineration and increases its profitability from the sale of the dry recyclables.

Organic waste is delivered to a composting plant for converting into compost that can be used in farming.

The paper, cardboard, plastics, steel and aluminium tins and cans and glass are delivered to reprocessors for the production of new products, reducing the reliance on using virgin materials.


L’Arca del Maresme has purchased two hybrid lithium-ion power N2-series intermittent-loading waste collection vehicles from Geesinknorba Spain. These two new units will accompany an existing Geesinknorba KT2 24H25 24-cubic-metre-capacity waste collection vehicle fitted with a roof-mounted crane operated by L’Arca del Maresme mounted to a Renault Premium 340 DXI six-by-two rear-steer 26-tonne chassis. This unit is used to collect dry recyclables from the containers used to service 25% of the municipality’s population.

The new Geesinknorba hybrid lithium-ion power units recently added to L’Arca del Maresme’s collection fleet include an N2 8L22 with 9 cubic metres of capacity that is mounted onto a Renault D16 Euro 6 16-tonne four-by-two chassis and an 18-cubic-metre capacity N2 18H25 mounted onto a Renault Premium D26 Euro 6 26-tonne six-by-two rear-steer chassis.

Both Renault chassis feature the Allison 3000 Series automatic transmission to reduce driver fatigue in the start-and-stop operations experienced in waste collection operations.

The municipality of Argentona previously had studied the use of Geesinknorba waste collection equipment from its experience with the KT2 24H25 unit and Renault chassis already working on its fleet and had therefore stipulated that this was the equipment it wanted used in the municipality. The municipality says it believed that Geesinknorba’s equipment would contribute to high operational efficiency while also reducing maintenance and cost over the lifetime of the equipment.

The use of hybrid technology was further strengthened by the municipality and L’Arca del Maresme’s longer term environmental strategy being based on reducing carbon dioxide and noise emissions and also on improving the general air quality of the local environment. This is underpinned by the municipality working with the Diputació de Barcelona to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 to meet the requirements of the Climate Change Act 2008.

Each of the two Geesinknorba N2 series units are fitted with the L200 Combi-Lifter, consisting of a comb bar for emptying DIN 30740 type containers of 80 to 1,100 litres in capacity. Trunnion arms also have been fitted to both units to enable the emptying of DIN 30700 type containers of 660 and 1,100 litre capacities, too. This gives the crew the versatility of using either the comb or trunnion arms.

The N2-series features an intermittent packing mechanism that uses the patented Geesinknorba slide block system. The compaction mechanism achieves a compaction ratio of 6:1, yielding a high payload.

Other benefits include the use of a special industrial type lithium ion battery that has been specially designed and manufactured for Geesinknorba.

The Renault truck chassis recharges the lithium-ion power battery when the vehicle is moving from one collection point to another. The lithium-ion power batteries only need charging from an electrical connection at the workshop once per week to make sure that the lithium ion batteries are stabilised. The lithium ion batteries will not fall below the 60% to 70% level, according to Geesinknorba.

If the batteries did fall to around 25% because of a technical or diagnostic issue, the lithium-ion power unit would automatically disconnect, and the hydraulics for operating the packing mechanism and bin-lifting equipment would be provided through the chassis power take-off using the Geesinknorba SmartPack system.

A benefit to using the SmartPack system in conjunction with the lithium ion power hybrid system is that it can ensure that, if the conventional chassis power take-off (PTO) is used, it will maintain a high level of operational productivity for the waste collection service.

Miguel Angel Morales, commercial director for Geesinknorba Spain, says, “Geesinknorba has continuously developed and improved its range of hybrid waste collection vehicles over the last two decades to make them more efficient and, above all, more environmentally friendly.”

Geesinknorba’s hybrid lithium-ion power product is available in the Mini-Series, G-Series, N-Series and MF-Series range of waste collection equipment products with capacities ranging from 5 to 30 cubic metres.

Geesinknorba Spain says that it, the Argentona municipality and L’Arca del Maresme are providing an efficient waste management system for the residents of Argentona that reflects the other waste collection, street and beach cleaning, household waste recycling centres and waste transfer station contracts L’Arca del Maresme operates within Catalonia.

The author is a certified manager with the U.K.-based Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Vienna. He also is an associate member of the Spanish Solid Waste Association, Ategrus. He can be reached via email at garbage32@hotmail.co.uk.