Waste investments buoy UAE construction sector

fmME reviews how the global emergence of recycling and waste-to-energy programmes is spurring construction activity in the UAE’s waste management sector

A WtE plant in Wuerzburg, Germany. WtE is a well-established industry in Europe. [Representational image]
A WtE plant in Wuerzburg, Germany. WtE is a well-established industry in Europe. [Representational image]

The growing scope of opportunities in the UAE’s waste management sector is driving the need for facilities to support anticipated demand for services such as collection, recycling, and energy generation.

Consequently, construction activity is on the rise within the country’s waste management arena. Leading the development is Attero-Tadwir-E, a joint venture between Sharjah-headquartered Bee’ah, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), and Attero Recycling India (AT-E).

Attero-Tadwir-E will implement integrated recycling, refurbishment, and refining facilities across the GCC, with the first one to be situated within Bee’ah’s waste management complex in Sharjah, it was announced this January.

AT-E’s component removal system uses a combination of infra-red tech and mechanical separation from polychloride biphenyl (PCB) – a common ingredient in electronical equipment – with high recovery rates.

Commenting on the necessity of recycling electronic waste, Nitin Gupta, CEO of AT-E, explained: “Dangerous elements like lead, barium, polychlorinated biphenyls, beryllium, mercury, arsenic, cadmium cause various forms of cancer and other debilitating illnesses. There are also data security concerns, where electronic data lands in the wrong hands and leads to unpredictable long-term liabilities for corporate entities.

“E-waste also contains numerous high value components like gold, palladium, cobalt, lithium, and platinum, which have historically been recovered in very inefficient and capital intensive processes. More gold can be derived from e-waste than mining ore,” Gupta added.

Opportunities in the waste-to-energy (WtE) sector – a well-established market in Europe – are also gaining recognition within the UAE, as is evidenced by the growing number of projects planned or already underway within the sector. Notable among these is Dubai Municipality’s $544.5m (AED2bn) plant, situated in Warsan District 2.

Remarking on the project last June, Eng Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, said that the project’s implementation will take three years, with operational commencement scheduled for Q2 2020. Its first phase will see the receipt of 2,000 metric tonnes of municipal solid waste per day to produce 60MW of power.

Meanwhile, Bee’ah and Masdar have teamed up to develop a waste-to-energy (WtE) plant, with the capacity to divert 300,000 tonnes of solid waste to landfill, in Sharjah. The project, announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, will help the emirate reach its zero waste-to-landfill target by 2020. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was inked between both companies to collaborate in the development of new energy projects.

The WtE facility will incinerate up to 37.5 tonnes of solid waste per hour to create 30 megawatts (MW) of energy. This will add to the power that is produced by Bee’ah’s auxiliary WtE project, which will eventually produce a total of 90 MW that will be supplied to the Sharjah electricity grid.

WtE’s potential as the next innovation in the waste management sector is rapidly gaining global recognition and accordingly, companies from across the spectrum – including equipment manufacturers – are directing their investments towards the development of WtE facilities and programmes.

Konecranes is introducing a range of lifting and material handling technologies designed for WtE and biomass applications for the Middle East. The new system for programming WtE automation is a main user interface (MUI).

This computer is integrated with the crane’s programmable logic controller system and allows the operator to schedule and programme 20 different work routines in full automation, giving plant managers flexibility to manage pit operations, and its smart features streamline load lifting and moving operations, increasing ease of use and reducing material cycling time.

WtE is likely to be the mainstay of waste management programmes in the future – and the UAE looks set to lead its trajectory in the Middle East.

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