Curbing the rise of waste

fmME reaches out to industry leaders to share their insights on tackling garbage

Frost & Sullivan estimates the GCC generates 80mn tonnes of waste per year.
Frost & Sullivan estimates the GCC generates 80mn tonnes of waste per year.

Taking a deeper look at the trends driving the GCC’s waste management market, fmME reaches out to industry leaders to share their insights on tackling garbage.

The rapid population growth and continued evolution of more complex products is undoubtedly driving increased waste generation. While an issue felt across the globe, the Middle East is considered one of the biggest producers of waste.

According to market consultant firm Frost & Sullivan, the GCC generates an estimated 80mn tonnes of waste per year and produces the highest amount of waste per capita than any other region in the world. It also where the most progress is being made in the field of waste management.

Pushing the green envelope in the UAE, Sharjah-based Bee’ah offers a variety of services aimed towards sustainability and improving the environment. For starters, Tandeef, the company’s waste collection division operates a large fleet consisting of 550 waste collection vehicles, 592 pickers, as well as seven cleaning boats.

Tanddeef also manages a fleet of 90 street sweepers and even offers beach cleaning services.

“In 2013: 2.2mn tonnes of waste were processed and treated at Bee’ah’s Waste Management Centre (WMC), 790,000 tons went into the landfill (diversion rate of approximately 62%). Last year, in 2014,Bee’ah collected and treated more than 2.1mn tonnes of waste,” comments Khaled Al Huraimel, group CEO of Bee’ah.

Bee’ah has already announced plans to develop another 12 facilities at the WMC base in the Al Saj’ah area of Sharjah. These include a solar power project, wood waste recycling facility and a hazardous waste processing plant. Furthermore, hoping to capitalise on a rapidly-growing waste-to-energy (WTE) sector, Bee’ah has also began to lay the foundation for a WTE plant.

Early 2014, market research consultants Frost & Sullivan released a study that called on the region’s waste management market to invest in WTE technology. With the right investments, the consultant firm estimates that WTE projects in the GCC could produce between 300 megawatts to 500 megawatts of power by 2020.

Qatar was the first GCC country to incorporate WTE into its power infrastructure with a plant deployed as part of its domestic solid waste management centre.

Following in its steps, Bee’ah entered into an AED1.3bn ($353.8mn) joint cooperation agreement with US-based Chinook Science to build one of the world’s largest waste-to-energy plants. The facility is expected to recycle 480,000 tonnes of waste annually, producing 85 megawatts of energy daily.

The facility will produce power through a high-tech, yet eco-friendly process known as gasification. By exposing materials to high temperatures with steam, the waste is broken down at a molecular level and produces syngas, a gaseous mixture that can be utilised by turbines to produce electricity.

In addition to its entry into the WTE sector, Bee’ah has also broadened its operations past the confines of the UAE market. Sensing a rising opportunity in Saudi Arabia, a country in which the company estimates each individual member generates approximately 1.3kg of solid waste per day, the Sharjah-based company has established an office in Riyadh. It brings a whole range of sustainable waste management services to the emerging market.

“Our skills and expertise are at a level at which we can export expertise across the region and Saudi Arabia is an ideal starting point in our regional expansion strategy,” boasts Al Huraimel.

Also operating in Saudi Arabia is global energy distribution company Schneider Electric, which works closely with the nation’s wastewater treatment facilities. Bringing a wealth of expertise in power and automation technologies, the company typically offer services aimed at implementing automated processes in wastewater facilities.

Schneider Electric is one of the major players in what is seen as a fast-growing market for water and wastewater treatment equipment in the GCC. According to a white paper released by Frost & Sullivan, the sector is currently estimated to be $2.2bn and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.6%. The sector is expected to reach $4bn by 2020.

The German electric distribution company provides a whole range of low volt and high-voltage equipment, elementary and remote console systems, and even provide audit and cybersecurity services. One of its core services is active leak detection, a package offering that provides two models of operation—forecasting for leakages and real-time information.

“The thing that we improved for the end-user, which they lack, is the absence of integrated resources, or let’s say integrated competencies…changing from manual operation, to an automated process, you will need different competencies,” comments Omar Ayoubi, director of Industry Business Unit for Saudi Arabia for Schneider Electric.

Currently, the electric management is aiding withIhsaa Irrigation Project to provide all the processes in their plants, which helps produce treated and drinkable water for more than 100 farms in the country.

Another key project is their collaboration on the mega project, Al Wassea, where Schneider Electric provides their management products to facilitate the energy needs of one of the largest reverse osmosis plant in Saudi Arabia.

The German company is also collaborating in a joint Tabuk Al Shamil project based in Tabuk City. Schneider Electric is assisting the local plant to develop a full system from the ground-up, which includes the interconnectivity of a pumping station, water network, treatment station and energy boosting plant.

In addition to its key projects, Ayoubi also highlighted Schneider Electric’s support for a directive put forth by the Minister of Water and Electricity Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Huse induring the Saudi Water and Power Forum in January 2015. The minister called on a number of industry players to increase their efforts to improve the volume of treated water, as well as increasing the various application of distributed water.

“I’m talking about about the sewage and the target is within 10 years, we will reach 50% overall treatment. When we talk about decreasing the volume, it is also another discussion about the usage of distributed water,” comments the business development manager.

Pointing to the example of the National Water Company (NWC), a water distribution and wastewater management firm in Saudi Arabia, it has taken a step towards selling water to the industrial sector. The company currently holds a contract with the Saudi Industry Company that utilises treated water for power generation, and is actively looking to secure partnerships with district cooling plants across the West.

In fellow GCC country Oman, a flurry of recent activity from within the waste management sector has drawn the interest of many of the region’s FM companies. One such example is that of integrated facilities management provider Imdaad that entered the market in early-2015.

“Be’ah Oman is at present issuing around 10 major tenders to privatise their waste collection and processing services across the whole of Oman,” comments Mahmood Rasheed, COO of Imdaad.

“The scope is ambitious as it includes not only the collection of the waste streams, but also the management at transfer stations, the recovery of recyclables and the minimisation of waste going to landfills.”

Part of the demand also calls for landfill management, an atypical service in the GCC, but one that enables service providers to maximise recycling and limit solid waste to landfills. Rasheed is quick to point out however, that the current viewpoint is shifting away from landfills, a practice that is swiftly becoming unsustainable and likely to lead to long-term issues with the environment.

Instead, Imdaad’s COO suggests that many entities throughout the GCC region have moved to incorporate sustainability practices into their respective infrastructure. Particularly in the UAE, which has long been considered one of the largest producers of waste in the region, there has been increased movement towards waste management projects and initiatives.

“Over the last few years, we have seen municipalities in the UAE developing their own related projects or collaborating with private companies in launching waste management facilities. This is a very positive trend that is sprouting complementary initiatives across other GCC countries,” asserts Rasheed.

In response to this development, Imdaad has pushed for the establishment of an integrated waste management program in the region. Such a program would need to focus on awareness campaigns, while improving collection, disposal and recycling systems.

Additionally, in an effort to expand its own capabilities, the FM company penned a long-term waste management agreement with the Economic Zones World. Part of the agreement includes the construction of an AED100mn ($27mn) material recovery facility in Technopark.

The facility will add to Imdaad’s collection and disposal services, which oversees recyclables, municipal and medical waste, as well as disposal services for confidential information. Currently, the company processes approximately 1,100 tonnes of commercial and industrial, of which a significant bulk is generated from Jebel Ali alone.

Looking ahead, Imdaad’s COO warns that the task of managing waste remains a challenging one as global population growth continues to surge. Contributing factors as changing food culture and habits, and the introduction of more complex products, will undoubtedly lead to higher waste volumes. In order to endure, considerations have to be made.

“We must establish a sustainable waste management system that can withstand any test of time,” asserts Rasheed.

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