A look back in time: Waste collection in Monaco in the 1980s to the mid-1990s

Written by: Tim Byrne | Published:

In 1980, the principality of Monaco had a population of 26, 746 people but by 1990, the population had increased to 29,438 people. The principality stretches over an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 square miles) and is the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world and is home to the most millionaires and billionaires in the world per capita head. Tim Byrne, specialist in waste collection in Mediterranean countries, reports.

Monaco is well known for the supply of luxury goods and services. The warm Mediterranean climate attracts tourists who stay in luxury hotels as well as those who visited the principality from neighbouring coastal resorts such as Nice. The Formula One Grand Prix, held annually in the Principality since 1929, also adds to visitor numbers and increases the volume of waste to be collected.

Because of this, it was vital in the 1980s to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, so waste collection was a very important task in the principality, the responsibility for which was carried out by the Societe Monegasque D' Assainissement (SMA). This was a private company with a history dating back to 1938 when it provided the first waste collection and waste treatment systems in the Principality.

In the 1980s through to the mid-1990s, SMA provided services for the collection of municipal, commercial and industrial wastes as well as dry recyclables such as source separated paper, cardboard and glass; the collection of white goods (fridges and freezers) which contained ozone depleting substances known as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); as well as hazardous wastes such as waste oil, batteries, gas canisters, paints and solvents.

In 1980 a new incineration plant, commissioned by SMA in the heart of the Fontvieille district, was built with a capacity to process 80,000 tonnes of waste per annum with energy recovery. The plant was built with three identical furnace grates, giving the advantage that when one was shut for annual maintenance, the other two would still be operational. The incinerator was the first continuously operated plant using automatically controlled combustion grates. It replaced the former incinerator plant, constructed on the same site in 1938, which was a batch process system and used Redman Heenan Nicholls and Froude incinerator grates from Worcester - England.

Waste collection service

SMA's waste collection service in the principality initially used white plastic sacks in the early to mid 1980s, supplied by SMA for the deposit of municipal and commercial wastes produced by the hotels, casinos, restaurants etc. The waste in these sacks consisted of packaging wastes, such as paper and cardboard, plastics such as (PET, HDPE and Tetra Pak) bottles and plastic packaging, glass wine, liquor and beer bottles, broken wine and beer glasses and food wastes with a high liquid content. The sacks were placed on the pavement for collection in piles or in a bin store in the grounds of the hotels, casinos or restaurants to await collection by the SMA'S workforce.

Any additional cardboard boxes which had contained supplies of food e.g. fruit, vegetables, or detergents for washing - soap and washing powder for linen as well as any wooden or plastic crates which had contained fruit, vegetables and fish caught locally, were also placed on the pavement for collection next to the pile of plastic white sacks or placed in the bin store in the grounds of the hotels, casinos and restaurants.

Towards the end of the 1980s, SMA introduced 120, 240, 360, 660 and 1100 litre containers for the deposit of the ever increasing volumes of food and packaging wastes produced by the hotels, casinos, restaurants etc. SMA considered the use of containers for the storage of waste to be a more hygienic system than sacks, boxes and crates. The containers prevented the leaking of leachates produced by food waste. They also gave a larger volume for the density of the wastes. The size of the waste containers supplied to restaurants, hotels and casinos was based on their own daily or weekly waste production. The containers were placed outside these establishments for emptying or were stored in a compound within the grounds of the hotels, casinos or restaurants to await emptying by SMA.

Additional waste placed next to the full containers in plastic refuse sacks, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates, would be collected by SMA in order to eliminate foul odours produced by the warm Mediterranean climate.

Communal collection points to house the 120, 240, 660 and 1100 litre containers were built near villas for the storage of their wastes. In some parts of the principality, a door-to-door waste collection system was still provided to residents using the white plastic sacks provided by SMA. The plastic sacks were placed outside the occupants' premises for collection on a daily basis. Any cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates placed next to full containers at communal collection points or outside residents' properties were collected by the SMA with the other waste.

Waste collection by SMA in the 1980s

The collection of municipal and commercial wastes was carried out in 1980 using a fleet of late 1960s Berliet GAK two axle chassis of 10,750 tonnes gross vehicle weight with a day cab accommodating a driver and two crew members. A Semat batch loading waste collection body of 6.3 cubic metres capacity was mounted on to the Berliet GAK two axle chassis. The Semat batch loader used a forward moving plate which was operated using a hydraulic ram placed outside and in the centre at the rear of the tailgate housing. The moving plate would push any plastic sacks, cardboard boxes and paper packaging wastes, wooden or plastic food crates loaded inside the hopper to be compressed inside the 6.3 cubic metres of air space.

The batch loader could hold a legal payload of 5,980 tonnes. The Semat batch loader had a front mounted tipping ram fitted centrally behind the Berliet GAK cab. This was operated once the truck was full and had made its way to the Fontvieille incinerator plant so that its load would be discharged by gravity. Since the batch loader had no ejection ram for the wastes' discharge, the Berliet's tare weight was 4,770 tonnes. This gave an advantage of an additional payload and airspace being available to handle the larger volumes of waste being produced at this time in this principality.

Because of the ever increasing volumes of waste arising in Monaco, SMA purchased a fleet of Comm SITA 6000 1200P and 1600P waste collection vehicles mounted on to Iveco Magirus 14 and 16 tonne two axle chassis in 1981 and 1982. The chassis had a day cab to accommodate a driver and two crew personnel.

The Comm SITA 6000 1200P body was of 12 cubic metres capacity while the 1600P body was of 15 cubic metres capacity. The 1200P units were used to collect waste in plastic sacks, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates from the narrow streets while the 1600P units were used to collect the larger volumes of waste placed in plastic sacks, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates placed in piles along the main streets. The packing mechanism consisted of a continuous paddle blade, which rotated both clockwise and anti-clockwise, pushing the waste from the left and right into the body of the Comm SITA 6000 superstructure. The paddle blade had sharp, jagged teeth which would rip open the plastic sacks of waste loaded into the hopper by the collection personnel, fragmentising and breaking up any glass bottles, bulky plastic (PET, HDPE and Tetra Pak) bottles, paper and cardboard packaging and food waste. Any cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates loaded into the Comm SITA 6000 1200P and 1600P would also be broken up.

The plastic sacks, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates were initially compressed and broken up by the paddle blade then compressed into the superstructure which had a hydraulic ejector shield compressing the waste under counter pressure. The superstructure would be full once the ejector shield had reached the front bulk head.

In 1985, SMA purchased a fleet of Berliet 'K' Series 14 and 16 tonne two axle chassis complete with day cab to accommodate a driver and two loaders. The chassis were fitted with 12 and 15 cubic metre Semat Superpac waste compression bodies. The smaller 12 cubic metre units used for collecting waste in the narrow streets, also had a closing rear door to prevent waste blowing out while on transit to another collection point or the incinerator. The larger 15 cubic metre units were used for collecting waste in the main streets in the principality.

The Semat Superpac 12 and 15 cubic metre units consisted of a continuous rake type packing mechanism which split open the plastic sacks crushing any glass bottles, breaking up any paper and cardboard packaging wastes (PET, HDPE and Tetra Pak) plastic bottles thus turning the solid food waste matter into a liquid paste.

Any cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates were compressed and shredded. The rake pressed the shredded plastic sacks, glass, paper, cardboard packaging, plastic bottles and food wastes, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates through a fixed tine. The waste was further shredded and broken up by the fixed tine before entering the Semat Superpac superstructure and then being compressed by the Superpac's ejector shield which was under counter pressure. As more waste was loaded, the ejector shield moved towards the front of the Superpac body until it reached the front bulk head.

The end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s

Towards the end of the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s, SMA moved away from the continuous packing Comm SITA 6000 1200P and 1600P and Semat Superpac units to intermittent loading waste collection vehicles. This was due to the modernisation of the waste collection system and the introduction of wheeled 120, 240, 360, 660 and 1100 litre wheeled containers for the storage of municipal and commercial wastes.

SMA purchased a mixture of Iveco Magirus, Renault 'G' Series, Renault Midlum and Volvo FL two axle 14 and 16 tonne chassis with day cab to accommodate a driver and two collection personnel. The Renault 'G' Series, Renault Midlum, Volvo FL two axle 14 tonne chassis and the larger Iveco Magirus 16 tonne two axle chassis were all fitted with front mounted crankshaft power take off (PTO) to operate the hydraulics e.g. the bin lift, compaction mechanism and raising and lowering the tailgate once fitted with either the Jumbo Grange - Jumbo 209 Variopress, SITA Super SMV and Semat Cargopac intermittent loading waste collection equipment.

The Renault 'G' Series, Renault Midlum and Volvo FL 14 tonne two axle chassis were all fitted with a 12 cubic metre Jumbo Grange - Jumbo 209 Variopress equipment with aluminium cladded bodies while the Iveco Magirus 16 tonne chassis was fitted with 15 cubic metres Jumbo Grange - Jumbo 209 Variopress intermittent loading equipment with aluminium cladded bodies. These units had a slide block packing mechanism and had a Jumbo Grange bar lifter fitted to lift 120-1100 litres capacity containers of DIN 30700 with trunnion pins and DIN 30740 containers with a comb bar.

SMA also purchased some SITA Super SMV intermittent loading waste collection vehicles which were mounted onto Renault 'G' Series and Renault Midlum 14 tonne two axle chassis with day cab for a driver and two collection personnel. SITA supplied their 1407 units of 12 cubic metres capacity which had a 'swing link' packing mechanism complete with a SITA bar lift for handling DIN 30700 and DIN 30740 type wheeled containers from 120-1100 litre capacities.

Semat Cargopac waste collection vehicles were also purchased in 12 cubic metre and 15 cubic metre capacities and mounted onto 14 tonne two axle Iveco Magirus, Renault Midlum and 16 tonne Iveco Magirus cabbed two axle chassis complete with day cab for accommodating a driver and two crew personnel. The Semat Cargopac body had its 'patented pivot link' compaction mechanism and was fitted with the Semat BS. 150 lifter for emptying DIN 30700 and DIN 30740 wheeled containers from 120-1100 litres capacity.

Smaller 3.5 tonne non compacting waste collection vehicles were also operated by

SMA for collecting waste in areas which were remote or had too tight access for the larger collection 14 and 16 tonne vehicles. These would either discharge into one of the larger 12 or 15 cubic metre 14 and 16 tonne two axle waste collection vehicles, which would act as a mothership vehicle, or would deliver their waste directly to the incinerator plant at Fontvieille.

SMA also operated a 7.5 tonne Renault Master two axle chassis with rear loading satellite compaction equipment and comb lift for emptying DIN 30740 type 120, 240, 360, 660 and 1100 litre containers from the central areas of Monaco where there was restricted access for the larger 14 and 16 tonne two axle waste collection vehicles. This vehicle would deliver its waste directly to the Fontvieille incinerator plant once it was fully loaded.

The advantages and disadvantages of waste collection vehicles used by SMA in the 1980s and 1990s

The 1960s Semat batch loader compaction system had many advantages. It would deliver high productivity levels when collecting waste inside plastic sacks and when compacting packaging wastes e.g. cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic food crates. Because of it not having an ejector shield/ejector ram, the unladen weight was 4,770 tonnes giving a high payload of 5,980 tonnes. There was also the additional air space for the waste to be compressed into which would not have existed if the Semat batch loader had an ejector shield and ejector ram fitted.

The Comm SITA 6000 1200P and 1600P waste collection equipment also had many advantages. The continuous operation of the paddle blade made the collection of large volumes of plastic sacks, cardboard boxes, and wooden or plastic food crates very efficient without interrupting the waste collection service. The teeth on the paddle blade would break up the plastic sacks, break and crush any glass bottles, plastic bottles, paper, cardboard and food wastes as well as cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic crates in the initial and primary stages of compaction.

The waste through secondary compaction would be compressed against the Comm SITA'S 1200P and 1600P ejection barrier which was under constant counter pressure. The overall result would be a high compaction ratio of 6:1 being achieved and the breaking up of the waste in the initial and primary stages of compaction by the paddle blade's teeth would help the incinerator at Fontvieille. This would give an even distribution of calorific values when the waste was burnt on one of the three incinerator furnace grates. Because of the use of minimum moving parts e.g. the paddle blade and ejector barrier and ejector ram, maintenance costs were very low when using the Comm SITA 1200P and 1600P waste collection vehicle product.

The Semat Superpac also had many advantages. The continuous operation of the rake compaction mechanism split open the plastic sacks while any cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic crates would also be broken up and shredded. The continuous operation of the rake achieved high productivity rates in waste collection. The rake would achieve initial and primary compaction and the fixed tine would achieve the secondary compaction, breaking down and compressing the waste before it entered into the main superstructure to be further compressed under counter pressure by the Superpac's ejection barrier. The continual forward movement of the waste by the tine, passing the waste after secondary compaction into the Superpac's superstructure prevented the rake from clogging up.

All of the hydraulics for the Superpac were external to the hopper and could be easily serviced and maintained through opening the side access door on the outside of the tailgate. The compaction ratio of the Superpac was 6:1 and once again prepared the waste for efficient incineration at the Fontvieille plant, because by the time the waste was delivered to the incinerator, it was totally shredded and most of the moisture from the food waste had dispersed or had been absorbed by the shredded paper, cardboard and wooden crates. Any remaining food waste had been solidified, reducing its original high water content thus achieving a higher heating value to produce electricity.

A new era of waste collection began towards the end of the 1980s and 1990s when SMA bought the intermittent loading waste collection vehicles.

This included a less labour intensive collection method with the introduction of the use of wheeled collection containers as well as it being more hygienic for the collection personnel. The intermittent loader was also far safer to use, because with a continuous loading waste collection vehicle, there was always the prospect of someone getting trapped or injured inside the compaction mechanism.

With an intermittent loading waste collection vehicle, the packer blade will complete one cycle to compress the waste and the collection personnel have full control over the operation of the compaction mechanism. It can be stopped with the press of the emergency stop button whereas with a continual packing system it may take longer for the packing mechanism to stop.

The loading rave of the intermittent waste collection vehicles was 1400mm for safety as well as the loading height being low enough for any additional sacks of refuse, cardboard boxes, wooden or plastic crates to be loaded into the hopper.

The three types of intermittent loading waste collection vehicles which the SMA purchased had their advantages and disadvantages. The Jumbo Grange - Jumbo 209 Variopress product had aluminium body panels which gave a huge weight saving compared to the SITA Super SMV and Semat Cargopac waste collection vehicle products. They were very compact in size and were excellent for use in both areas with tight access and also the main streets because of their short tailgate profile. They also achieved a 6:1 compaction ratio achieved by the intermittent loading slide block packing mechanism completing the initial and primary compaction and the ejector barrier completing the secondary compaction.

One disadvantage of the product was the packer could either run on slide blocks or cast roller bearings. The slide blocks needed replacing every twelve months due to wear caused by friction. However, if the packing mechanism was running on cast roller bearings the maintenance would be slightly lower although the rollers will need replacing over time.

The SITA Super SMV has many advantages, one of which is that it has a 'swing link' compaction mechanism which leads to lower maintenance costs as no slide blocks or cast roller bearings will need to be replaced. However, it will still need its weekly greasing to maintain its effectiveness. The SITA Super SMV has a short tailgate profile which is good when using a body capacity of 12 cubic metres for gaining access to areas with restricted access. The product achieves a 6:1 compaction ratio with initial and primary compaction being achieved by the 'swing link' packer blade and secondary compaction being achieved by the ejection barrier which is under counter pressure.

The Semat Cargopac waste collection vehicle uses 'pivot link' compaction alleviating the use of slide blocks which helps to reduce maintenance costs. The tailgate, like the Jumbo Grange Jumbo - 209 Variopress and the SITA Super SMV refuse collection vehicles, also has a short overhang, giving the collection vehicle either of 12 or 15 cubic metres capacity, an excellent turning circle in areas which may have restricted access. The Semat Cargopac also achieves a high level of compaction 6:1, the initial and primary compaction being achieved by the 'pivot link' compaction mechanism and secondary compaction being achieved by the ejection barrier.

In conclusion, SMA provided a highly efficient waste collection system for the principality of Monaco in the 1980s and the early 1990s, incorporating the most modern and innovative waste collection systems for their time. By SMA regularly updating its fleet of waste collection vehicles with the latest available technology, the principality is expected to be self sufficient in delivering a sustainable waste collection system for its residents and tourists well into the 21st century and beyond.


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