Resource Mgmt: Waste handling plant and machinery

Is the UAE set to become first truly sustainable Middle East country.

ANALYSIS, Projects

Sustainability is more than an ecological ideal; it is a matter of sheer practicality. Treating landfill as an end in itself is simply unfeasible in the long term.

Although some might be able to ignore the environmental damage caused by such an approach, the fact that space is a finite resource is – ultimately – inescapable.

In order to achieve a sustainable future, we are going to need equipment capable of managing the waste that we produce. In this special report, James Morgan speaks to a host of UAE waste management experts to learn about the machinery that is being used to improve the country’s green credentials.

Compaction in action

Figures from Dubai Municipality and ASE explain how Tana landfill compactors are improving efficiency at the Al Qusais solid waste dumping area.

Dubai Municipality recently took delivery of two new Tana E520 landfill compactors. Although one might not immediately associate this news with sustainability, it’s worth considering that these machines have been bought as part of the authority’s long-term goal to eliminate landfill waste by 2030.

Purchasing new landfill compactors in a bid to eliminate landfill might seem somewhat counterproductive, but in order to achieve this ambitious target, the Municipality has to modernise the waste management facilities it currently has in operation.

The E520 units were supplied by Al Shirawi Enterprises (ASE), Tana’s official distributor in the United Arab Emirates. The new landfill compactors will team up with two previously acquired Tana waste management machines at the solid waste dumping area in Al Qusais, Dubai.

The Municipality has been acquiring the latest waste management technology to help achieve a situation of zero landfill within the next two decades, such as the new landfill gas engine at its Al Qusais facility (see p.10). It is hoped that the new Tana machines will further improve efficiency at the site.

“We are currently finalising our master plan for 2030,” said Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, director of Dubai Municipality’s waste management department. “The main objective of this plan is to reduce landfill waste. By 2030, we aim to have completely eliminated landfill waste in Dubai.

“We want to reach a position whereby everything is recycled,” he continued. “To achieve this, we plan to use waste-to-energy plants. We are currently in the process of building a new landfill facility close to the Al Ain road. However, this will be a much more technically advanced facility, and will feature the latest in waste management engineering.”

In contrast to conventional landfill compactors, the Tana E520 features a twin-drum design, meaning that fewer passes are needed to achieve a smooth and dense surface. The machine’s rigid frame adds to the overall crushing force, and the Finnish manufacturer’s patented ‘crushing teeth’ system optimises the spreading and crushing of waste.

Saifaie and his colleagues estimate that the Al Qusais facility will reach full capacity within the next five to seven years, depending on how much waste the site handles. In order to maximise its lifespan, equipment such as the Tana E520 landfill compactors will be vital.

“The E520 landfill compactors seem to be easier to operate than some of our other equipment,” said Saifaie. “This is because of their design. They are also more comfortable for our operators. For these reasons, we have decided to take two of the machines on trial. I expect that we will require additional machines for other facilities in the future.”

Each piece of equipment purchased by the Municipality undergoes rigorous scrutiny to ensure that it helps to improve efficiency, and the new compactors are no exception.

“We will study the machines’ efficiency during operation,” explained Humaid Saeed Almarri, director of Dubai Municipality’s transportation department. “Within six to 12 months, we will have a full performance report and will be able to see whether there have been any maintenance issues.”

Also present at the handover of the compactors was ASE executive director Thani A Al Shirawi. He believes that the Municipality’s choice of waste management machinery is a reflection of its commitment to modernisation and sustainability.

“Dubai Municipality’s decision to opt for Tana landfill compactors is proof that it is moving towards a sustainable future,” he explained.

“As far as I know, Dubai is the only city in the GCC – and perhaps the Middle East – that has stopped compacting with bulldozers. Bulldozers are not designed to compact; they are designed to bulldoze. Even so, people still try to use the weight of bulldozers to compact waste.”

Tana machines have been well received by the Municipality in the past, according to Al Shirawi, and he is confident that the new E520s will also impress.

“Tana E520 landfill compactors are far more efficient than bulldozers because they have been designed specifically for the purpose of compaction,” he concluded.

Tana E520 landfill compactor
Engine: Cummins QSX15-C535
Weight: 52,000kg
Maximum crushing force: 255kN
Compaction width: 3,800mm
Ground clearance: 890mm

The financial incentive

Mil-tek’s Darren Laird explains how companies across the GCC are using baling and compacting machinery to turn waste into cash.

Danish firm Mil-tek has been operating in the GCC since 2007. The international supplier of balers and waste presses offers equipment for the compaction of various materials such as cardboard, plastic, paper, polystyrene, tins, cans and mixed waste.

According to Mil-tek Middle East’s export manager Darren Laird, the overriding philosophy of the company is to get its customers to see the money behind recycling.

“Our machines encourage companies to recycle,” he explained.

“As a company that manufactures and supplies waste balers and recycling equipment, Mil-tek clearly has an environmental overlook. In addition, we’d like to encourage our customers to look at their waste, not as waste as it might have been viewed in the past, but as a commodity. Waste is something that can actually be used to generate revenue. At the same time, recycling helps the local environment so companies will become greener.”

Few question the validity of the environmental argument, but sadly, this doesn’t have the capacity to incentivise like cold, hard cash. Laird argues that if Mil-tek can point out the financial advantages of recycling, the green benefits will follow.

“Everybody produces waste in one way or another, whether it be in small or large volumes,” he said. “Quite frankly, the Middle East is a few years behind Europe and the United States in terms of recycling, but progress is being made in the region. What Mil-tek is trying to do is to provide the financial encouragement necessary to speed things along.

“Waste is a commodity like gold or oil,” Laird continued. “It has fluctuating markets. Our machinery enables users to transform their waste into a format whereby recyclers and waste collectors actually want to take it away.”

There are two prices for waste on the world market: loose and baled. Loose waste is only worth a small amount of money because it requires a large amount of input from the collector. Baled waste, on the other hand, can be stacked safely and compactly onto trucks, thus minimising transportation costs. As such, it can be worth up to five times more than loose waste.

“Mil-tek balers are different from conventional units as they are operated pneumatically,” explained Laird. “Air-operated balers offer a number of benefits. First and foremost, they are very energy efficient. Our EcoDrive device provides a baler with an artificial intelligence, allowing it to measure waste resistance underneath its pressing plate and adjust itself accordingly.”

In addition to balers, Mil-tek offers waste management products such as air-powered waste presses and polystyrene compactors. The manufacturer is able to cater to a wide range of requirements, from small commercial kitchens to Dubai’s busy malls.

Significant progress has been made in the Middle East’s recycling sector, according to Laird. In his opinion, the key to future growth is education.

“When you’re talking about recycling equipment in an emerging market, it can take some time for people to understand what the machines are there for,” he explained. “However, more and more people are now beginning to see the benefits of this type of technology.

“I am confident that the Middle East will eventually catch up with Europe and North America in terms of recycling,” Laird concluded. “Once the people of this region set their minds on achieving something, it tends to happen fairly quickly.”

Mil-tek 305 air-powered baler
Bale weight: Plastic < 180kg Cardboard < 100kg
Bale dimensions: 840mm x 655mm x 850mm
Pressing cycle: 10 to 20 seconds
Degree of compression: 85% to 90%
Weight: 460kg
Noise level: < 70dB

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