The Menace of Plastic Water Bottles

During the holy month of Ramadan, the use of drinking water increases many folds as water bottles are supplied and provided especially at ‘Fatoor’ and dinner at religious places, hotels, Ramadan tents and private homes. The main consumption is however, at the religious places due to longer stay of people in offering special night prayers (taraweeh and Qiyam ul Lail). These water bottles are provided in bulk by philanthropists, sponsors and people at religious places to quench the thirst of people who gather for the long prayers.

In the Middle East, it is common to see people greatly misuse this resource considering it free, taking a bottle, sipping it half and leaving it at the venue. These used and partially consumed water bottles are then collected and thrown away in municipal garbage bins from where  it is collected and transported to Askar municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center. These water bottles thus have a high carbon footprint and represent enormous wastage of precious water source and misuse of our other fragile resources. In many cases, these water bottles are being littered around the commercial and religious places.

Plastic water bottles are a common feature in our urban daily life. Bottled water is widely used by people from all walks of life and is considered to be convenient and safer than tap water. A person on an average drinks around 2.0 liters of water a day and may consume 4-6 plastic bottles per day. UAE is considered as the highest per capita consumer of bottled water worlwide. 

We need to understand that plastic is made from petroleum.  24 million gallons of oil is needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Plastic takes around 700 years to be degraded. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself. 80% of plastic bottles produced are not recycled.

Globally, plastic recycling rate is very low and major quantities of plastics are being disposed in the landfills, where they stay for hundreds of years not being naturally degraded. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 5.74 cubic meters of landfill space and save cost of collection and transportation.

Water bottles manufacturing, transportation, distribution and again collection and disposal after its use create enormous pollution in terms of trash generation, global warming and air pollution. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores alone releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the plastic bottles.

The first step is that once you open a water bottle, you need to complete consume it to fully utilize the resource. Do not throw the plastic bottles as litter. The solution to the plastic bottles usage lies in its minimum use and safe disposal. Alternatively, a flask, thermos or reusable water bottle can be used which can be refilled as required. It is suggested that religious places, hotels and malls should have efficient water treatment plants to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

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Waste Management Outlook for Qatar

Qatar is counted among the world’s fastest growing economies as well as richest countries in the world. The rapid industrialization of the country and high population growth generates a lot of wastes in the form of municipal wastes, construction & demolition debris, industrial wastes etc. Annual solid waste generation in Qatar has crossed 2.5 million tons, which corresponds to daily waste generation of more than 7,000 tons per day. The country has one of the highest per capita waste generation worldwide which ranges from 1.6 to 1.8 kg per day.

Solid Waste Management Scenario

Solid waste is mainly comprised of organic materials while the rest of the waste is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics. Waste is collected from across the country and predominantly disposed off in landfills. There are three landfills in Qatar; Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste, Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste, and Al-Krana for sewage wastes. This method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited and only 8% of the waste is recycled.

One of the promising developments in solid waste management sector in recent years has been the creation of Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Mesaieed. This centre is designed to maximize recovery of resources and energy from waste by installing state-of-the-art technologies for separation, pre-processing, mechanical and organic recycling, and waste-to-energy and composting technologies. It will treat 1550 tons of waste per day, and is expected to generate enough power for in-house requirements, and supply a surplus of 34.4 MW to the national grid. 

Government Strategy

The Qatar Government has identified the need for better waste management and has made plans to address this issue in Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016. According to this plan the Government proposes to contain the levels of waste generated by households, commercial sites and industry and to recycle much more of the waste generated. Accordingly, the plan prioritizes actions to reduce the pressure on the environment, with the most preferable goal being the avoidance of waste. Where waste cannot be avoided, the preferred goals would be to reduce it, reuse it and recycle it, and the least desirable action is to dispose of materials.

The plan also proposes to initiate new policies to encourage firms to export recycled items and manufacturers to use recycled material. The Government is to consider providing subsidies to encourage more firms to enter the recycling business and public awareness campaigns to encourage waste separation. It also plans to improve collection networks and to provide recycling bins.

To generate new recycling activity sponsored demonstrations and public awareness activities are planned. Citizens will be made aware of the opportunity to use recycled products, such as furniture made from recycled wood or compost produced daily in Mesaieed. Citizens are to be encouraged to see waste reduction and recycling as a duty with the welfare of future generations in mind.

The critical step in establishing a solid waste management plan will be to coordinate responsibilities, activities and planning. The plan, to be aligned with the Qatar National Master Plan, will cover households, industry and commercial establishments, and construction and demolition. The plan will also provide classifications for different types of domestic and non- domestic waste, mapping their sources.

Future Perspectives

When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the plant at Mesaieed might have been seen as an ideal solution, but by the time the project was completed the capacity of the plant to handle waste has been overwhelmed. The centre in Mesaieed can treat only 1550 tons of the 7000 tons generated everyday and this is only going to increase in future. Qatar needs a handful of such centers in order to tackle the growing menace of urban wastes.

While steps are being taken to handle waste generated in future, the Government needs to focus on creating mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. If this can be achieved then the public can be expected to play its part in helping to reduce the generation of waste and in recycling waste by making the process easier by segregating waste at the source. The public needs to be made aware of its responsibility and duty to the future generations. Since Qatar is predominantly a Muslim country, the government may also take help of Islamic scholars to motivate the population to reduce per capita waste generation.

Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives. After a period of public education and demonstration, segregation-at-source needs to be implemented throughout the country. Legislation needs to be passed to ensure compliance, failure of which will attract a penalty with spot checks by the Government body entrusted with its implementation.

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Reuse of Greywater

Greywater includes water from showers, bathtubs, sinks, kitchen, dishwashers, laundry tubs, and washing machines. The major ingredients of greywater are soap, shampoo, grease, toothpaste, food residuals, cooking oils, detergents, hair etc. In terms of volume, greywater is the largest constituent of total wastewater flow from households. In a typical household, 50-80% of wastewater is greywater, out of which laundry washing accounts for as much as 30% of the average household water use. The key difference between greywater and sewage (or black water) is the organic loading. Sewage has a much larger organic loading compared to greywater.

Importance of Greywater Reuse

If released directly into rivers, lakes and other water bodies, greywater can be a source of pollution which can affect marine life, human health, ecology etc. However, after appropriate treatment, greywater is suitable for irrigating lawns, gardens, ornamental plants and food crops, toilet flushing, laundry washing etc. Reusing grey water for irrigation and other non-potable water applications will help in reconnection of urban habitats to the natural water cycle, which will contribute significantly to sustainable urban development.

Reuse of greywater can help in substituting precious drinking water in applications which do not need drinking water quality such as industrial, irrigation, toilet flushing and laundry washing. This will, in turn, reduce freshwater consumption, apart from wastewater generation. For water-scarce regions, countries, such as the Middle East and Africa, greywater recycling can be instrumental in augmenting national water reserves. An increased supply for water can be ensured for irrigation thus leading to an increase in agricultural productivity.

The major benefits of greywater recycling can be summarized as:

  • Reduced freshwater extraction from rivers and aquifers
  • Less impact from wastewater treatment plant infrastructure
  • Nutrification of the topsoil
  • Reduced energy use and chemical pollution from treatment
  • Replenishment of groundwater
  • Increased agricultural productivity
  • Reclamation of nutrients
  • Improved quality of surface and ground water

How is Greywater Reused?

There are two main systems for greywater recycling – centralized or decentralized. In a decentralized system, greywater collected from one or more apartments is treated inside the house. On the other hand, a centralized system collects and treats greywater from several apartments or houses in a treatment plant outside the house.

Greywater reuse treatment systems can be simple, low-cost devices or complex, expensive wastewater treatment systems. An example of a simple system is to route greywater directly to applications such as toilet flushing and garden irrigation. A popular method for greywater reuse is to drain water from showers and washing machine directly for landscaping purposes. Modern treatment systems are complex and expensive advanced treatment processes comprised of sedimentation tanks, bioreactors, filters, pumps and disinfections units.

In order to transform greywater into non-potable water source, water from baths, showers, washbasins and washing machines has to be collected separately from black water, treated and eventually disinfected for reuse. Garden irrigation is the predominant reuse method for situations where greywater can be bucketed or diverted to the garden for immediate use. Advanced greywater recycling systems collect, filter and treat greywater for indoor applications like toilet flushing or laundry washing. Greywater from laundry is easy to capture and the treated greywater can be reused for garden watering, irrigation, toiler flushing or laundry washing.

Water-efficient plumbing fixtures are vital when designing a household greywater reuse system. Some examples are low-flow shower heads, faucet flow restrictors, and low-flow toilets. Greywater systems are relatively easier to install in new building constructions as house or offices already constructed on concrete slabs or crawlspaces are difficult to retrofit.

Protection of public health is of paramount importance while devising any greywater reuse program. Although health risks of greywater reuse have proven to be negligible, yet greywater may contain pathogens which may cause diseases. Therefore, proper treatment, operation and maintenance of greywater recycling systems are essential if any infectious pathways should be intercepted.

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تحسين الوضع الاقتصادي للمجتمعات عن طريق تعزيز مشاريع إعادة التدوير

 

 تعتبر البلديات و المجالس المحلية المسئول المباشر عن إدارة ملف النفايات الصلبة في المدن حول العالم للحفاظ على المدن نظيفة. ففي الوقت التي تحتل فيه التكنولوجيا المتوفرة (جمع النفايات، النقل، إعادة التدوير، التخزين، المعالجة)، تزداد النداءات الدولية لإعادة النظر إلى مجال إدارة النفايات الصلبة كأداة لحل العديد من المشاكل الاقتصادية، الإجتماعية، و البيئية. و من هذه الأصوات الرئيس الأمريكي السابق "بيل كلينتون" عندما صرح في المؤتمر السنوي لمبادرة كلينتون العالمية عام 2010

" إذا أردتم محاربة التغير المناخي، تحسين الصحة العامة، إيجاد فرص عمل للفقراء و خلق مناخ مناسب للروّاد، فإن أفضل الطرق للوصول لهذا الشيئ هو إغلاق مكبات النفايات"

 

فيجب على السلطات أن تنظر إلى ملف إدارة النفايات الصلبة بمنظور أشمل بحيث يشمل تحسن عام في صحة الناس و البيئة، استخدام أمثل للمصادر (موارد الطاقة) و تحسين الوضع الإقتصادي. لهذا أصبحت إدارة النفايات الصلبة تحد صعب للجهات المختصة، رجال الأعمال، و المواطنين، فإدارة النفايات الصلبة تحتاج إلى "خلطة سحرية" تنمزج فيها السياسة الإدارية، المسئولية الإجتماعية، القطاع التجاري، و المواطنين. 

 

فنجاح تطبيق نظام فعّال لإدارة النفايات الصلبة يعتمد بشكل كبير على عوامل محلية و إقليمية متعددة في المجالات الاقتصادية، الاجتماعية، و السياسية في المجتمع المحلي. فباللإضافة إلى نظام إدارة يشمل جميع الحلول المتوفرة، ففهم جيد للآلية التي تؤثر فيها العوامل السياسية، الاجتماعية، و الاقتصادية مهمة لتطوير استراتيجية فعّالة لإدارة النفايات الصلبة. فعلى الجهات المسئولة النظر إلى هذا الملف كفرصة للنهوض بالوضع الاقتصادي للمجتمع من خلال خلق آلاف فرص العمل و إنشاء مجال جديد للاستثمار.

 

فمن أجل التأثير على الطبقة العامة من الناس تجاه إعادة تدوير المخلفات، يجب عليهم أن يشعروا بصورة مباشرة بالفائدة التي تعود عليهم، لذلك كمرحلى أولى يجب تغيير الصورة السيئة في مخيلاتهم عن هذا المجال عن طريق حملات التوعية و المبادرات و الدراسات التفصيلية لكي يشعروا بحجم الفرصة و فوائدها.

 

الفيديو التالي لمشروع إنشاء وحدة إعادة فرز للنفايات الصلبة في مدينة رفح (فلسطين). تم تنفيذ المشروع عن طريق جمعية أصدقاء البيئة  و بتمويل من الوكالة اليابانية للتنمية، فعلي الرغم من الجدل القائم في هذا المجال حول فاعلية المشروع، فقد خلقت العديد من فرص العمل للنساء و ساعدت على تقليل كميات النفايات المرسلة لمكب صوفا. إنها خطوة جيدة في الاتجاه الصحيح و لكن كان الأولى، قبل إنشاء وحدة الفرز، دراسة الحلول و الخيارات للنفايات المفرزة في نهاية خط الانتاج حيث أن هناك الآلاف الأطنان من النفايات المكدسة بسبب عدم وجود أي طريقة لإعادة تدويرها بعد عملية الفرز.

 

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Community Engagement in Recycling Initiatives in Qatar

The current state of environmental custodianship in Qatar leaves much to be desired from the national government and other institutions that publicly endorse initiatives with much fan-fare but do not commit to sustained action. My previous piece titled “Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies” illuminated some of these gaps, but did not provide a detailed description of what underpins this trend and possible solutions might look like. Thus, this article seeks to delve deeper into how state institutions and civil society in Qatar may be able to work cooperatively in staving off further environmental degradation, especially with regards to waste management and recycling.

I believe that real success will be achieved through popular buy-in and a paradigm shift towards recognizing the interconnectedness of humans with their surroundings, which can be encouraged through education. Perhaps more importantly, there needs to be a public acknowledgement that all individuals residing in Qatar have a vested interest in pushing for greater environmental protection enforcement and accountability. In a region that is already faced with a lack of potable water and arable land, allowing the existing course to be maintained is not only risky, it is flat-out dangerous to the nation’s survival.

An Uphill Battle, But a Necessary One

Individuals that either live in or visited a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nation, especially a hydrocarbon-rich rentier state like Qatar, are probably quite familiar with the inadequacies of current recycling initiatives. As someone who has visited the country on three different occasions I can tell you that I have searched high and low for something resembling a recycling bin, can, or other receptacle but to no avail, save for a few located in Education City. One might imagine this to be exceptionally jarring coming from the hyper-attentive, green-obsessed Washington, DC where trash and recycling cans typically are placed together on streets and in buildings.

Further adding to my chagrin is the apparent disconnect between high level, widely publicized recycling improvements and the realities (and consequences) manifesting among general society. For example, last year there was much excitement surrounding the announcement of upcoming environmental reforms in July 2014, but it appears nothing further came to fruition.

The article touches upon some of the apparent hindrances for recycling programs and other environmental initiatives: bureaucracy; paperwork; budgetary constraints. I would add to this list based upon personal experiences: general apathy towards recycling; inaccessibility of bins; perception of additional costs to conducting business.

Fair enough – I acknowledge that some of these issues are out of citizens’ and expats’ hands, but that is no excuse for giving up. The predicted 6.8% GDP growth spurred by the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup and hydrocarbon exports will surely put further pressure on an already fragile ecosystem and lead to an uptick in waste production. This is not meant to stoke unnecessary fear, but the equation here is straightforward; more people present in Qatar, more trash will be created from residential and commercial zones. As noted by fellow EcoMENA contributor, Surya Suresh, the nation presently possesses one solid waste facility at Mesaieed and three landfills devoted to particular items, which now seem to be overwhelmed by growing waste inputs.

Possible Solutions: Personal and Community Action

Given this lag in state responses to the existing recycling crisis and future issues stemming from it, readers may be asking what they can do to help. At the personal level, I would encourage Qatari residents, as well as others in neighboring nations, to begin with educating themselves about the current state of recycling initiatives and conducting an inventory of their daily waste generation. EcoMENA website offers a variety of informative pieces and external resources useful to individuals seeking more information.

My latter point about doing a personal inventory is about consciousness-raising about how we each contribute to a wider problem and identifying means of reducing our impact on the environment. Examples from my own life that I believe are applicable in Qatar include counting the number of plastic bags I used to transport groceries and replacing them with a backpack and reusable bags. I also frequently re-appropriate glass jars for storing items, such as rice, spices, and coffee – make sure to wash them well before reuse! It has taken me several years to get to past the social stigmas surrounding reusing containers and to cultivate the future planning to bring my reusable bags with me, but knowing my actions, aggregated with those of my friends and family, positively affect the environment is quite rewarding and reinforces good behavior. Give it a shot and see what happens.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial for the community at large to begin discussing the topic of recycling and what they would like to see, rather than solely wait on state agencies to address issues. Doing so could initially be formulated on a level that many Qatari residents are probably most familiar with: their place of employment, apartment, or neighborhood. After all, if individuals, specifically employers, are expected to bear the increased costs associated with improved recycling then an understanding of what people want is necessary in hopefully resolving issues effectively and with greater community enthusiasm.

Because of the nature of nation-states’ institutions typically being reactive entities and incapable of being aware of every societal problem, it is up to community-level groups to voice their concerns and be committed to change. Organizations such as the Qatar Green Building Council and the Qatar Green Leaders, offer a variety of informative pieces and training services that may help in establishing dialogues between groups and the government. Perhaps this is too idealistic right now, but Qatari residents have organized popular support for other initiatives, notably in the initial pilot recycling program in 2012. Now let us make that a sustained commitment to recycling!

 

References

  1. Andrew Clark, “Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies,” on EcoMENA.org, http://www.ecomena.org/environment-middle-east/.
  2. Doha News Staff, “Official: New, Sorely Needed Recycling Policies in Qatar Afoot,” on Dohanews.co, http://dohanews.co/official-new-sorely-needed-recycling-policies-in/.
  3. Qatar National Bank, “Qatar Economic Insight 2013,” on www.qnb.com.qa  
  4. Surya Suresh, “Waste Management Outlook for Qatar,” http://www.ecomena.org/waste-qatar/
  5. Doha News Staff, “Responding to Community Calls, Qatar Rolls Out Pilot Recycling Program,” http://dohanews.co/responding-to-community-calls-qatar-rolls-out-pilot/.

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مقدمة في عملية التسميد

إن عملية التسميد هي  عبارة عن تفاعل معقد بين النفايات والكائنات الحية الدقيقة المتواجدة داخلها . الكائنات الدقيقة التي تنفذ هذه العملية تنقسم إلى ثلاث مجموعات: البكتيريا والفطريات، والفطريات الشعاعية . الفطريات الشعاعية هي شكل من أشكال البكتيريا مثل الفطريات التي تفتت المواد العضوية .المرحلة الأولى من النشاط البيولوجي هو استهلاك السكريات المتوفرة بسهولة عن طريق البكتيريا، مما يسبب ارتفاعا سريعا في درجات الحرارة . تليها  المرحلة الثانية التي تسبب فيها  البكتيريا والفطريات الشعاعية  انهيار السليلوز . المرحلة الأخيرة هي المرحلة  المعنية بإنهيار اليغنينس "lignins" الصلبة من قبل الفطريات .

الحلول الوسط لهذه العملية تتخلص  بالتسميد بكلفة منخفضة دون التهوية الإجبارية ، أما تكنولوجياً استعمال أنظمة أكثر تقدماً باستخدام الهواء و الحرارة كتغذية إجبارية . النباتات الأساسية في عملية التسميد  قادرة على  التعامل مع أكثر من 100.000 طن سنوياً  من النفايات القابلة للتحلل ، ولكن عادة ما تكون سعة النبات  حوالي 10.000 إلى 30.000 طن سنويا.

يجب فصل النفايات القابلة للتحلل قبل عملية  التسميد: نفايات الطعام النقية فقط  ، نفايات الحديقة، ورقائق الخشب، وبعض الورق حسب مدى مناسبته لإنتاج نوعية جيدة من السماد . ويمكن تصنيف منهجية التسميد هذه إلى ثلاث أقسام  رئيسية  : السماد اللاهوائي ، الكمر الهوائي، و التمسيد بواسطة الكائنات الحية الدقيقة " مثل الديدان " . في التسميد اللاهوائي، تتحلل المواد العضوية في غياب الهواء .  و من الممكن جمع المواد العضوية في حفر و تغطيتها  بطبقة سميكة من التربة وتركها من ستة إلى ثمانية أشهر .  السماد الذي تشكل ليس بالضرورة أن يكون قد تحول بشكل تام ربما سيحتوي على بعض  تكتلات  " aggregates "  .

الكمر الهوائي هي العملية التي يتم من خلالها  تحويل النفايات العضوية بوجود الهواء  إلى سماد أو مغذي للسماد  ، ويمكن أن تكون من أنواع مختلفة. الأكثر شيوعا هي طريقة التكويم، حيث تقسم المادة العضوية إلى ثلاثة أنواع مختلفة، ثم توضع في حفرة كومة فوق الأخرى و تغطى بطبقة رقيقة من التربة الجافة أو الأوراق . تحتاج هذه الكومة إلى أن تخلط كل أسبوع ، وتحتاج حوالي ثلاثة أسابيع ليأخذ التحوّل منحاً جدياً . هذه العملية تقريبا نفس طريقة الحفرة، ولكنها تحتاج حفراً مخصصة . ينبغي القيام بالخلط كل 15 يوماً ، وليس هناك وقت ثابت لتأكيد جاهزية السماد .

يستخدم بيركلي الطريقة التقنية و كثيفة المجهود كما أن لديه متطلبات دقيقة للمواد التي يتم تحويلها إلى سماد . المواد القابلة للتحلل بسهولة، مثل العشب، والمواد نباتية، وما إلى ذلك، يتم خلطها  مع فضلات الحيوان بنسبة 1:2  . و يجهز السماد عادة في غضون 15 يوماً .

يتضمن التسميد بواسطة الكائنات الحية الدقيقة استخدام ديدان الأرض كمفاعلات و محفزات حيوية لعملية التسميد . ويتم ذلك في حفر مصممة خصيصا حيث يحتاج دودة الأرض الى التكاثر و تكوين مجتمعات حيوية  أيضا. التسميد بواسطة الكائنات الحية الدقيقة  هو خيار قائم على الدقة ويتطلب الإشراف على العمل من قبل خبير . كما أنه خيار عالي التكلفة .

على كل حال , خلافاً للخيارين أعلاه هي عملية عديمة الرائحة مما يجعلها الخيار الأفضل للمناطق السكنية .  كما أن  نسبة  تحويلها للمواد إلى سماد عالية للغاية ، لذلك جودة المنتج النهائي عالية جدا مع  وجود مغذيات دقيقة  والمغذيات صغيرة ايضا .  يحتوي المنتج النهائي أيضا على ميزة أنه يمكن أن يجفف ويخزن بأمان لفترة أطول من الزمن.

يحتاج تسميد النباتات إلى بعض أو كل الوحدات التقنية التالية: الفتاحات الحقيبة، فواصل مغناطيسية و / أو الباليستية، غرابيل (منخل)، القطاعات، معدات المزج و الخلط ، ومعدات التحويل وشبكات الري، وأنظمة التهوية وأنظمة الصرف الصحي، المرشحات الحيوية ، وأجهزة الغسيل، وأنظمة التحكم، وأنظمة التوجيه.

تحدث عملية التسميد عندما تتراكم النفايات القابلة للتحلل جنبا إلى جنب على شكل  هيكل يسمح لانتشار الأوكسجين مع محتوى المادة الجافة مسببا بيئة مناسبة لنمو الميكروبات.  درجة الحرارة تزداد بزيادة الكتلة الحيوية وذلك بسبب النشاط الميكروبي وخصائص عزل المواد المكدسة . غالبا ما تصل درجة الحرارة من 65 درجة مئوية إلى 75 درجة مئوية في غضون بضعة أيام ثم تنخفض ​​ببطء. هذا الارتفاع في درجة الحرارة يعجل القضاء على مسببات الأمراض وبذور الحشائش.

          ترجمة 

علا محمود المشاقبة , حاصلة على درجة البكالوريوس تخصص " إدارة الأراضي و المياه " من الجامعة الهاشمية – الأردن بتقدير جيد جدا , أعمل تطوعيا كعضو إداري مع مجموعة " مخضّرو الأردن JO Greeners"  منذ ثلاثة سنوات و حتى الأن  , و متطوعة أيضا مع منظمة  EcoMENA  . موهبة الكتابة شيء أساسي في حياتي و قمت بتوظيفها في كتابة و خدمة القضايا البيئية 

 

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SAFE-Q: Be a Part of Food Waste Research Project in Qatar

SafeQ-Project-QatarDistribution of food is quite different and more challenging than other consumer products since the distribution operation must ensure the food product maintains its quality and safety while it is transported downstream on the food chain until it reaches the consumer. For example, temperature control is a critical aspect of food distribution as failure to maintain it at the prescribed level will result in deterioration of the quality or even risk the safety of the food product.

On the other hand, owing to the globalised distribution networks and the advances in food processing and packaging technologies as well as the improvements in storage and distribution infrastructure, the geographical locations where food is grown, processed, and consumed are becoming increasingly decoupled. As a result, global food supply chains are becoming longer and more complex than non-food supply chains because of the need to assure the quality and the safety of the products throughout their journey from farm to fork. The inefficiencies in food supply chain operations and changing consumer demands around food products have resulted in an increased global concern across academia, industry, and the public about the rise of food waste.

What is Safe-Q Project?

SAFE-Q or Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar is a research project funded by the QNRF, aiming to develop perspectives on food waste as well as its impact on food security in Qatar. The objectives of the SAFE-Q project are:

  • to systematically study and develop a typology of the causes of food waste occurring the distribution of food in Qatar
  • to examine the changing trends in consumption of food in relation to their implications on waste occurring in Qatar’s food supply chains
  • to synthesize and develop a holistic understanding of the food waste generated in the supply and the demand perspectives
  • to develop policy recommendations to reduce and eliminate where possible the waste occurring during the distribution and the consumption of food in Qatar

SAFE-Q is run by an international team of researchers from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, Cranfield University (UK), Brunel University (UK), University of Bradford (UK), and Western Sydney University (Australia) collaborating on factors driving food waste and how they can be mitigating to reduce and eliminate where possible the food waste. The SAFE-Q project is running from January 2015 to January 2018 and over the course of the project the researchers have collaborated with many organisations in Qatar, including but not limited to EcoMENA, Hamad bin Khalifa University, United Nations Environment Programme.

Why should you care?

Qatar is located in a region that has a limited capacity to be self-sustaining in food as much of the country consists of low, barren plains that are covered with sand and subject to intense heat over dry and humid seasons. Although recent efforts to grow food locally have proven successful, they are yet to reach substantial yields: the self-sufficiency percentage is still in single figures. Importing 90% of the food consumed in the country, Qatar also faces a significant food waste problem originating from many factors: weather conditions, poor demand planning, lack of logistics infrastructure, consumption habits, and so on. Whilst the agricultural capacity in the country is being increased to improve food security, there is something else we can do: identify the factors relevant to food waste and quantify them.

The SAFE-Q research team conducted 64 interviews with food chain actors such as farmers, importers, distributors, retailers, hotels, and catering businesses as well as consumers and employees of governmental and non-governmental organisations over the past two years and identified 61 factors related to food waste. All these factors and their definitions can be found on https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/safeq/factors-relevant-to-food-waste/

What do we expect to achieve?

SAFE-Q contributes to the implementation of the “Qatar National Vision 2030”, focusing on the long-term sustainability of the food supply chains. We expect to better understand the organisational and social influences that can promote food security in Qatar as it is on its path to set an example for the rest of the countries in the region in their efforts to become more sustainable and improve their food security.

food-waste-project-qatar

There are many factors driving food waste and we understand them individually, but we do not know the interactions between them and the system-wide effects. With your help, we will quantify the relationships between factors affecting food waste and develop policy recommendations around them in a systematic way to reduce the food waste. Your participation in our survey will allow us to establish the strength of these relationships and inform policy makers as they prioritise their policies to address the food waste problem as an integral part of the efforts to improve food security.

How can you help?

Click here to complete the survey to help identify the relationships between factors relevant to food waste:

https://cranfielduniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_7U8I9jiC5YgI5RX

We do not record your identity, please answer freely. We appreciate your support!

Do you want to learn more?

SAFE-Q research project has a website that is updated every two weeks and you can learn more about our progress so far and the results in the future here:

https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/safeq/

You can email us at safe-q@cranfield.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @SafeQProject. We will be grateful to your feedback. 

The Paper Bag Boy of Abu Dhabi

Abdul Muqeet, also known as the Paper Bag Boy, has risen from being just another ordinary student to an extra-ordinary environmentalist. At just ten years old, Abdul Muqeet has demonstrated his commitment to saving the environment in United Arab Emirates and elsewhere. 

Inspired by the 2010 campaign “UAE Free of Plastic Bags”, Abdul Muqeet, a student of Standard V at Abu Dhabi Indian School, applied his own initiative and imagination to create 100% recycled carry bags using discarded newspapers. He then set out to distribute these bags in Abu Dhabi, replacing plastic bags that take hundreds of years to degrade biologically. The bags were lovingly named ‘Mukku bags' and Abdul Muqeet became famous as the Paper Bag Boy.

Abdul Muqeet’s environmental initiative has catalyzed a much larger community campaign. During the first year, Abdul Muqeet created and donated more than 4,000 paper bags in Abu Dhabi. In addition, he has led workshops at schools, private companies and government entities, demonstrating how to create paper bags using old newspapers. His school along with a number of companies in Abu Dhabi adopted his idea by exchanging their plastic bags for paper bags.

Abdul Muqeet was one of the youngest recipients of Abu Dhabi Awards 2011, for his remarkable contribution to conserve environment. The awards were presented by General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. In 2011, Abdul Muqeet was selected to attend the United Nation’s Tunza conference in Indonesia where he demonstrated his commitment for a cleaner environment through his paper bag initiative. He is actively involved in spreading environmental awareness worldwide, especially UAE, India, USA and Indonesia.

 

Abdul Muqeet continues to make headlines for his concerted efforts towards a plastic-free environment, and has been widely covered by leading newspapers in UAE and other countries. He tirelessly campaigned for the Rio+20 summit, urging world leaders to commit to the Green Economy. “Plant more trees; use less water; reuse and recycle; always remember that everything in this world can be recycled but not time,” offers Abdul.

He has been remarkably supported by his parents and siblings throughout his truly inspiring environmental sojourn. Abdul Muqeet’s monumental achievements at such a tender age make him a torch-bearer of the global environmental movement, and should also inspire the young generation to protect the environment by implementing the concept of ‘Zero Waste’.

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Waste-to-Energy in Jordan: Potential and Challenges

landfill-jordanEffective sustainable solid waste management is of great importance both for people’s health and for environmental protection. In Jordan, insufficient financial resources, growing population, rapid urbanization, inadequate management and lacking of technical skills represent a serious environmental challenge confronting local government. At the same time, energy remains Jordan’s top challenge for development. The energy needs to be produced in a sustainable way, preferably from renewable sources which have a minimum environmental impact. To face the future problems in waste management, as well as securing the demand of renewable energy, it is necessary to reuse the wasted resources in energy production.

Jordan has definitely acknowledged that making affordable energy solutions available is critical to support industries, investment, and attain sustainable growth. One option is to use solid waste to generate electricity in centralized plants. Waste-to-energy has been recognized as an effective approach to improve recycling rates, reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, reduce the amount of materials sent to landfills and to avoid pollution.

Waste-to-Energy Potential

According to recent statistics, Jordan population stands at around 9.5 million. The estimated municipal waste generated according to the last five years average production is around 3,086,075 ton/year. This huge amount of waste generated is not only a burden, but a potential resource for use in energy production. Considering the country average waste composition 40% is organic waste e.g. avoidable and unavoidable food waste (1,200,000 ton), 10 % are recyclable e.g. paper, plastic, glass, ferrous metals and aluminum (300,000 ton) and 50% are suitable for incineration e.g. garden and park waste, wood and textiles (1,500,000 ton) with high calorific value and energy potential (8.1 MJ/Kg) that is capable to produce electricity 340 kWh/ton waste. The high organic waste is suitable for methane gas capture technologies which is estimated at 170 m3/ton waste.

Technology Options

Nowadays, there are many technologies available which makes it possible to utilize these energy potentials. The major alternatives conventional technologies for large scale waste management are incineration, landfilling and anaerobic digestion. These technologies are affordable, economical visible and associated with minimum environmental impact. The production of electricity is combined with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the current energy situation (90% of the country energy produced from fossil fuel), the country emission factor is around 819 CO2-eq/kWh. However, the use of waste to energy solutions is considered to be a clean and definitely the amount of GHG emitted is a lot less than the gases generated by ordinary practices (open dumping and unsanitary landfills).

Construction of an incineration plant for electricity production is often a profitable system even though the installation cost is high since production of electricity often leads to a large economic gain. Landfill gas utilization avoids the release of untreated landfill gases into the atmosphere, and produces electricity to sell commercially in an environmental friendly manner. However, landfilling is associated with methane production. Methane is a potent GHG, contributing 21 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic digestion technology is another option. Anaerobic digestion not only decrease GHGs emission but also it is the best technology for treatment of high organic waste through converting the biodegradable fraction of the waste into high-quality renewable calorific gas. Currently, with the growing use of anaerobic technology for treating waste and wastewater, it is expected to become more economically competitive because of its enormous advantages e.g. reduction of pathogens, deactivation of weed seeds and production of sanitized compost.

alghabawi-landfill-jordan

Sorting at the place of generation and recycling e.g. paper, plastic, glass and metals needed to be practiced at the country level or at least where these technologies implemented. Incinerated waste containing plastics (not sorted) releases carbon dioxide, toxic substances and heavy metals to the atmosphere and contributes thereby to climate change and to global warming.

Challenges to Overcome

Waste-to-energy technologies offer enormous potentials as a renewable energy sources and to mitigate climate change in Joran. However, these technologies pose many challenges to the country and discussion makers. Currently, the waste sector is administrated by the government. Poor regulation and insufficient financial resources are limiting the available options toward adapting these new technologies. Private investments and collaboration with the private sector is the key solution in this regard.

Recycling of PET Plastic Wastes

Like all other modern urban centers, the Middle East also faces challenges in environmental protection due to tremendous tonnage of waste produced in different forms. The gross urban waste generation from Middle East countries exceeds 150 million tons per annum, out of which 10-15 percent is contributed by plastic wastes. The burgeoning population, growing consumption, and an increasing trend towards a “disposable” culture, is causing nightmares to municipal authorities across the region and beyond.

Plastic consumption has grown at a tremendous rate over the past two decades as plastics now play an important role in all aspects of modern lifestyle. Plastics are used in the manufacture of numerous products such as protective packaging, lightweight and safety components in cars, mobile phones, insulation materials in buildings, domestic appliances, furniture items, medical devices etc. Because plastic does not decompose biologically, the amount of plastic waste in our surroundings is steadily increasing. More than 90% of the articles found on the sea beaches contain plastic. Plastic waste is often the most objectionable kind of litter and will be visible for months in landfill sites without degrading.

Recycling Process

After PET plastic containers are collected they must be sorted and prepared for sale. The amount and type of sorting and processing required will depend upon purchaser specifications and the extent to which consumers separate recyclable materials of different types and remove contaminants.

Collected PET plastic containers are delivered to a materials recovery facility to begin the recycling process. Sorting and grinding alone are not sufficient preparation of PET bottles and containers for re-manufacturing. There are many items that are physically attached to the PET bottle or containers that require further processing for their removal. These items include the plastic cups on the bottom of many carbonated beverage bottles (known as base cups), labels and caps.

Dirty regrind is processed into a form that can be used by converters. At a reclaiming facility, the dirty flake passes through a series of sorting and cleaning stages to separate PET from other materials that may be contained on the bottle or from contaminants that might be present. First, regrind material is passed through an air classifier which removes materials lighter than the PET such as plastic or paper labels and fines.

The flakes are then washed with a special detergent in a scrubber. This step removes food residue that might remain on the inside surface of PET bottles and containers, glue that is used to adhere labels to the PET containers, and any dirt that might be present. Next, the flakes pass through a “float/sink” classifier. During this process, PET flakes, which are heavier than water, sink in the classifier, while base cups made from high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) and caps and rings made from polypropylene plastic (PP), both of which are lighter than water, float to the top.

After drying, the PET flakes pass through an electrostatic separator, which produces a magnetic field to separate PET flakes from any aluminum that might be present as a result of bottle caps and tennis ball can lids and rings. Once all of these processing steps have been completed, the PET plastic is now in a form known as “clean flake.” In some cases reclaimers will further process clean flake in a “repelletizing” stage, which turns the flake into “pellet.” Clean PET flake or pellet is then processed by reclaimers or converters which transform the flake or pellet into a commodity-grade raw material form such as fiber, sheet, or engineered or compounded pellet, which is finally sold to end-users to manufacture new products.

 

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Significance of E-Waste Management

Electronic waste (or e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream, and its disposal is a major environmental concern in all parts of the world. More than 50 million tons of e-waste is generated every year with major fraction finding its way to landfills and dumpsites. E-waste comprises as much as 8% of the municipal solid waste stream in rich nations, such as those in GCC. Globally only 15 – 20 percent of e-waste is recycled while the rest is dumped into developing countries. However, in the Middle East, merely 5 percent of e-waste is sent to recycling facilities (which are located in Asia, Africa and South America) while the rest ends up in landfills.

What is E-Waste

The term ‘e-waste’ stands for any electrical or electronic appliance that has reached its end-of-life, such as refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, cell phones, TVs and computers. Such waste is made up of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, glass, wood, circuit boards, ceramics, rubber etc. The major constituent of e-waste is iron and steel (about 50%) followed by plastics (21%), and non-ferrous metals (13%) like copper, aluminum and precious metals like silver, gold, platinum, palladium etc. E-waste also contains toxic elements like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium and chromium.

E-waste is different from municipal and industrial wastes and requires special handling procedures due to the presence of both valuable and expensive materials. Recycling of e-waste can help in the recovery of reusable components and base materials, especially copper and precious metals. However, due to lack of recycling facilities, high labour costs, and tough environmental regulations, rich countries either landfill or export e-waste to poor countries which is illegal under the Basel Convention.

Health Hazards

Recycling techniques for e-waste include burning and dissolution in strong acids with few measures to protect human health and the environment. E-waste workers often suffer from bad health effects through skin contact and inhalation. Workers, consumers and communities are exposed to the chemicals contained in electronics throughout their life cycle, from manufacture through use and disposal. The incineration, land-filling, and illegal dumping of electronic wastes all contribute toxic chemicals to the environment.

Electronics recycling workers have been shown to have higher levels of flame retardants in their blood, potentially from exposure to contaminated indoor air. Similar exposures are likely for communities where recycling plants are located, especially if these plants are not adequately regulated. Much of the electronics industry in the Middle East, Europe and North America has outsourced manufacturing and disposal to developing countries of Southeast Asia, China and India. Uncontrolled management of e-wastes is having a highly negative effect on local communities and environment in these countries.

E-Waste Recycling and Metal Industry

Electrical and electronic equipment are made up a wide range of materials including metals, plastics and ceramics. For example, a mobile phone may contain more than 40 elements including base metals like copper and tin, special metals such as cobalt, indium and antimony, and precious metals like silver, gold and palladium. Infact, metals represents almost one-fourth of the weight of a phone, the remainder being plastic and ceramic material. Taking into account the fact that worldwide mobile device sale totaled 1.8 billion in 2010, this will translate into significant metal demand each year.

If we consider the high growth rate of electronic devices, including cell phones, TVs, monitors, MP3 players, digital cameras and electronic toys, it becomes obvious that these equipment are responsible for high demand and high prices for a wide range of metals. These metal resources are available again at final end-of-life of the device which could be used for manufacture of new products if effective recycling methods are implemented.

Mining plays a vital role in the supply of metals for electrical and electronic industry. The environmental impact of metal production is significant, especially for precious and special metals. For example, to produce 1 ton of gold or palladium, 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide is generated. If recycling processes are used to recover metals from e-waste, only a fraction of CO2 emissions will occur, apart from numerous other benefits.

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Waste Management Implications of 3D Printing

The rapid deployment of 3D printing is one of the most exciting developments since the appearance of the smart phone. This is technology with some serious potential to change how and where goods are manufactured, transforming supply chains. The New Scientist has gone so far as to herald 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, as ushering in a second industrial revolution. But is anyone thinking about how what this new development means for the waste sector?

Whilst the technology is already being put to some dubious uses, the ability to manufacture pretty much anything wherever and whenever it’s needed is certainly appealing. Interest isn’t confined to those frustrated inventors whose imaginations have been constrained by the tools they can fit in the garden shed; there’s likely to be take-up from businesses, householders – and even space agencies, apparently.

Insights into 3D Printing

By building up layer upon layer of material, a 3D printer can produce objects to any pattern, up to the maximum size it can handle. However, the applications to which these objects can be put to may be limited by the physical properties of the materials that will inputted in to 3D printers – the equivalent of the ink in the printers we’re all familiar with. Clearly, you can’t print a toaster if your 3D printer only uses plastic – but an oven knob, or even a wind-powered robot with dozens of moving parts, is no problem.

A quick scan of 3dprinter.net helpfully outlines the different methods 3D printers are able to deploy, which I’ve summarised here. Each appears to require its own TLA (Three Letter Acronym). Perhaps in the future terms such as Stereolithography (SLA), Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and PolyJet photopolymer will become as ubiquitous as DVD and VHS have been in the past. Each of these techniques is compatible with a selection of materials, primarily plastics – but some are able to use metals, ceramics or even play-dough.

Environmental Implications

Moving significant amounts of manufacturing away from factories (predominately in Asia) to our own door steps will no doubt have profound impacts on the balance of goods and services across the globe. The economic and social implications of the technology have the potential to be significant– as do the environmental implications.

There is potential for greenhouse gas emissions savings from reduced shipping – not just cutting the number of products that make the long journey across the seas from China, but also reducing road freight. Fewer trucks on the motorways could be one of the unexpected effects 3D printing. But what are the waste management issues associated with mass deployment such technologies. And if we are future gazing, is their deployment consistent with the ‘zero waste economy’ envisaged by governments across the Middle East?

For those who haven’t yet thought too hard about what the technology is; think of it like the ‘replicator’ devices as featured in Star Trek. The replicator was a machine capable of creating objects by voice command, from what appeared to be thin air. 3D printing is only a shade less magical.

Waste Management Perspectives

3D printing is something of a double-edged sword when it comes to waste. It creates new recycling problems, but has considerable potential to help prevent waste. It could even be an outlet for recycled plastics. The opportunity for DIY repairs, especially to everyday items that we might otherwise decide were uneconomic to fix, appears enormous.

But with the higher profile that waste management has these days, I feel that we ought to be making 3D printing the first technology to be designed with recycling in mind. The waste management industry is a service industry; and typically it has had to adapt retrospectively to technology changes that it has not been able to influence. After more than a decade, we’re still catching up with the introduction of plastic milk bottles in lieu of glass. But this reactive approach clearly isn’t the best way to achieve a zero waste economy.

3D printing offers numerous challenges and opportunities to the waste management industry. As we, as a society, become more aware of material security, I’d suggest that the best approach would be for the waste management industry to engage positively with the designers and manufacturers of the 3D printing devices, trying to identify opportunities to ensure that the circular economy doesn’t become an afterthought.

The most appealing possibility would be if the machines could recycle waste polymers themselves, and re-use them as feedstock. Could we see a scenario where the machines become the recycling facility, thus greatly reducing the need for even the print medium to be transported? Bringing the nascent 3D printing industry together with experts in waste management could help to make this new technology contribute to rather than challenge our ambitions for a zero waste economy.

Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be viewed at http://www.isonomia.co.uk/?p=2512

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