Slow and steady wins the race
Tadweer Waste Treatment invites fmME to tour their waste management facility in Warsan, Dubai.
Incepted in 2006, Tadweer Waste Treatment began as a meagre operation with a single sorting line, tasked with the challenging goal of managing the waste of Dubai.
A decade on, the facility based in Warsan has expanded significantly, adding numerous specialisations into the waste management company’s portfolio. With an additional two sorting lines, a compost factory, plastic granule recycling plant, and a staff of 360 employees, the facility has become one of the most comprehensive waste management sites in the Middle East.
At the centre of the 47.4 hectare site, Tadweer’s sorting facility processes roughly 1,000 tonnes on a daily basis, and boasts a diversion rate to landfill of 50%. From the moment waste arrives, it is organised through an automated process that mechanically screens for organic matter, as well as the use of magnets to isolate metals. The main facility also houses a recycling plant that recycles plastics, such as polyethylene, into plastic granules. These types of plastics are typically found in film, as well as plastic shopping bags.
Of the material recovered, 10% is resalable and separated to one of the six pressing lines. Formed into bales, the recyclables are stored temporarily outdoors before being transported to interested buyers.
The end-product includes paper cartons, plastics and aluminium metals.
“Paper cartons goes to India. Plastics that are recycled here—the balance goes to China, India and Pakistan. For the aluminium, we sell it in the UAE, but also sometimes to India,” explains Mousa Awad, general manager of Tadweer.
Roughly 30 to 35% of the waste recovered from the sorting lines is organic or green waste, which is then directed to the compost plant roughly 200 metres away.
Utilising an oxygen-controlled composting blowing system, developed by German company Kompost und Substrate Service GMBH, the process creates a high temperature atmosphere which helps to eliminate seeds, bacteria and fungi.
The end-result is a compost of rich black soil that is both odourless and highly nutritional. The high quality soil is typically used in agriculture, landscaping, or for home gardening purposes.
The end-product is sold exclusively in the UAE, explains Awar, simply because the business model for selling aboard is simply unfeasible. With each bag selling at approximately $2, the cost of transportation and shipping alone, would make it impossible to market the product oversees.
As Dubai’s primary waste treatment service company, Tadweer receives the bulk of its waste from the Dubai Municipality. Whereas in the past, the government entity’s collection constituted roughly 70% of the total waste received at the site, today’s percentages stand at roughly 40 to 45%. The remaining share is contributed from Tadweer’s ever-growing number of strategic partners in the private sector.
One such company is integrated FM company Imdaad, who holds a long standing relationship with Tadweer, as well as an extensive waste collection and disposal operation.
“For the past 20 years, we have been catering to the waste management requirements of various market segments in challenging environments.
“We have channelled the team’s knowledge and expertise towards developing the best waste management solutions for our various clients throughout the region,” shares Mahmood Rasheed, COO of Imdaad.
As one of Tadweer’s principal waste collection partners, the FM service provider contributes approximately 160 to 200 Cbm of waste on a daily basis. In addition to its collection fleet of over 100 trucks, each with capacities ranging from one to 20 tonnes, Imdaad also oversees a number of sewage treatment plants (STP) with a total design capacity of STPs at 18,050m3.
The Dubai-based company manages a number of recycling initiatives, such as the agreement with MASAFI to collect PET bottles from offices, and a partnership with Jebel Ali Container Glass Factory to receive clear glass for recycling.
Imdaad has also expanded its presence beyond the confines of the UAE, establishing a small presence in neighbouring Oman. Working with its partners, Imdaad is providing technical and local support to aid the country’s initiative to privatise municipal solid waste management collection and treatment.
However, its biggest development within the realm of waste management, lies with the FM provider’s move towards enhancing its waste treatment capabilities. In 2014, Imdaad inked a long-term agreement with the Economic Zones World (EZW) to establish a $27mn (AED 100mn) material recovery facility. Based in TechnoPark in Jebel Ali, the six hectare site will house a plant capable of processing 1,000 tonnes of waste daily.
“In the next few years, Imdaad will advance as a company that is able to offer full waste management solutions, from pre-collection, collection, logistics to waste treatment of all types,” explains Rasheed.
Expansion is also a hot topic with Tadweer, which is aiming to introduce a line for refuse-derived fuel (RDF). Falling under the realm of waste-to-energy (WTE), RDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste with waste converter technology. Intended to tackle rejected waste left over from the material recovery factory, the upcoming line is expected to increase the facility’s waste diversion to the landfill from 50 to 65%.
While not a revolutionary technology, having been used across Europe for the last 40 to 50 years, the introduction of RDF to the UAE was previously unfeasible, simply because a lack of demand. Following its completion by the final quarter of 2015, the fuel produced from the line will be sold to cement factories across the UAE, the biggest of which will be the Gulf Cement Factory.
“Our company has been here for 10 years. First, we started with the sorting factory. This had to be our first step. Then came the granules out of plastics and green composting, and now the next step is alternative fuels—the easiest being RDF,” asserts Awad.
Tadweer is also exploring other WTE technologies, specifically the use of waste for incineration and gasification, as well as producing biogas. The latter could prove lucrative as the transformation of organic matter into gas would be then utilised in energy generation.
The inhibitor of progress however, according to Tadweer’s general manager, lies with the lack of support from local government entities, such as the Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. Industry business practices like gate fees, which is simply a charge levied upon the quantity of waste delivered to a waste processing facility, is sorely needed to support the sector.
Furthermore, Awad argues that the private sector alone will not be able to drive the progress of WTE technologies.
“WTE is part of our plans but we will need full support from the government. We cannot develop this sector by ourselves in the private sector.
“You need the government to buy the electricity and to also enable the use of gate fees. Also investment for this project is huge,” explains Awad.
Another critical issue that the general manager points out is the country’s lack of facilities that have the capability to utilise Tadweer’s recyclables to produce raw material for industry.
He asserts that at this point, recovered material is typically resold abroad, and it is an issue that needs to be remedied for the betterment of the local market.
“I think the government will now push to develop this sector over the next five to ten years. After that, you will find that the recyclables will be sold and turned to raw material within the UAE,” comments Awad.