Medellin’s ‘Emvarias’ Sanitation-Unit EBITDA Improves April 2019
Emvarias – the sanitation-department subsidiary of Medellin-based utilities giant EPM – on April 3, 2019 announced that full-year 2018 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 61% year-on-year, to COP$40 billion (US$12.7 million).
However, net income fell 41% year-on-year, to COP$4.49 billion (US$1.4 million), as interest income from its investment portfolio declined.
Debt level rose 1% year-on-year, to COP$247 billion (US$79 million), while asset values rose 25%, to COP$75.7 billion (US$24 million), according to the company, which finances its investments from internal cash flow.
Operating income rose 10.9% year-on-year, to COP$227 billion (US$72 million) “thanks to the expansion of coverage in the provision of services to the municipality of Medellín, complementary services such as washing of bridges, roads and public areas, and [recycling] intervention at critical waste points,” according to Emvarias.
During the year, repeated street, park, bridge and sidewalk cleanings covered a total length of 1.5 million kilometers, partly by the work of human sweepers and the remainder by street-cleaning machines, according to Emvarias.
Foreign visitors to Medellin are often quoted in news reports and blogs as being surprised at the relative cleanliness of the city (compared to Bogota and elsewhere) — even though the Medellin metropolitan area now totals more than 3.5 million persons.
As for garbage collection, Emvarias covered 100% of Medellin via 511 daily routes, picking-up 662,041 tons of waste in Medellín alone, according to the company.
As for the “La Pradera” landfill operation in suburban Barbosa, Emvarias grew from serving 25 municipalities prior to 2018, to 37 municipalities last year, which put a total of 1.1 million tons of waste into the landfill.
“Of those 37 municipalities, Rionegro (2.85%), Envigado (6.7%), Bello (8.95%) and Sabaneta with its transfer station (14.82%) represent 33% of the total waste entered annually in the La Pradera landfill,” according to Emvarias.
Recycling programs successfully diverted 395.4 tons of usable waste away from the landfill, as various materials went back into the productive cycle, according to the company.
Meanwhile, the La Pradera landfill continues to collect and burn waste methane, hence reducing net greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions — since methane is far a more potent GHG than the carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from methane combustion.
The company also is a pioneer in all Colombia in collecting and decontaminating the liquid leachate from its La Pradera landfill.
“The leachate treatment plant installed in the La Pradera sanitary landfill is the only treatment system with biological reactors and ultrafiltration system (UF) in landfills in the country,” according to Emvarias.
“This technology guarantees a high percentage of removal in parameters, such as chemical oxygen demand (COD), biological oxygen demand (BOD), ammoniacal nitrogen and total suspended solids (SST), among others.”
During 2018, Emvarias launched construction of the second phase of the leachate treatment plant, boosting the daily biological treatment rate and enabling greater removal of organics, according to the company.
Emvarias currently has 130 garbage trucks, of which 65 employ engines burning compressed natural gas (CNG). The remainder burn regular diesel fuel.
While both types of engines produce air pollutants, the CNG engines reduce particulate matter and noise output compared to conventional diesel engines.