Energy Efficiency Perspectives for UAE

With Abu Dhabi alone on track to generate more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity for the first time, discussion about improving energy efficiency in the United Arab Emirates is taking on a more critical tone. Daytime energy use in the hot summer months is still experiencing rampant year-on-year growth, with peak demand this year growing by 12 per cent. Lying at the heart of these consumption levels is the need for air conditioning, which accounts for about half of total electricity demand.

Business and Government Action

At the commercial level, considerable steps are being taken to reduce the Emirate’s carbon footprint. A building insulation program in Dubai has resulted in claims that all buildings there have become twice as energy efficient since completion of the program. Further steps are also underway in other ecological areas such as water efficiency and waste management with the intention of ensuring the green credentials of every building meet international environmental standards and expectations.

At the official level the Emirates’ Authority for Standardization and Metrology continues to implement its Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling (EESL) program. This introduced specific efficiency and labelling requirements for non-ducted room air-conditioners in 2011.

These measures were joined this year by requirements under the same program for many other household electrical goods including lamps, washing machines and refrigerating appliances. The labelling requirements under this program will become mandatory by 2013 enabling consumers to see which machines are the most efficient and make sound environmental choices that will also save them money on running costs. The EESL programme will be further extended in 2013 to include ducted air-conditioners and chillers.

The UAE’s oil and gas sector also is recognising the importance of the energy efficiency agenda. It might seem counterintuitive that a sector with oil reserves of about 97 billion barrels and natural gas reserves of six trillion cubic meters should be thinking about how to save energy. The issue is that these reserves, despite their size, are not finite and that oil for export produces greater revenue generation than oil for the domestic market. It is, therefore, in the oil and gas sector’s interest to work with those trying to drive down domestic consumption, as it will maximise the sector’s longer term sustainability.  

The Emirates Energy Award was launched in 2007 to recognize the best implemented practices in energy conservation and management that showcase innovative, cost effective and replicable energy efficiency measures. Such acknowledged practices should manifest a sound impact on the Gulf region to stir energy awareness on a broad level and across the different facets of society.

Significance of Behavioural Change

As much as formal initiatives and programmes have their place in the battle for a more energy efficient UAE, there also needs to be a general shift in culture by the public. Improving public perception of green issues and encouraging behaviours that support energy efficiency can contribute significantly towards the overall goal. As fuel prices increase in the domestic market, the UAE’s citizens are already adding more weight to fuel efficiency when considering what cars they will buy.

SUVs and 4x4s might still be the biggest sellers but household budgets are becoming increasingly stretched and many ordinary citizens are looking for smaller more efficient cars. Perhaps for the first time, the entire running costs of cars are being considered and the UAE’s car dealers and their suppliers are looking to accommodate this change in their customers’ attitudes. This trend is so significant that some car dealerships are seeing large year-on-year increases in sales of their smaller, more efficient models.

Car rental companies are seeing this trend also and in Dubai, at least one is making hiring a car with green credentials more appealing to a wider cross-section of the public – offering everything from the more familiar Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs to the most exotic hybrid and fully electric cars available to hire or lease.

Capitalising on these trends makes both environmental and business sense but economic drivers cannot alone be left to change public behaviour. There are really simple measures that government and business should be encouraging people to take. Some may argue that switching-off computers, lights and air-conditioning at the end of the working day may save energy but is not sufficiently worthwhile promoting – voluntary measures of this sort will not impact on overall energy trends.

There is evidence however that if these behaviours are added to measures like installing energy efficient lighting, lowering thermostats and optimising EESL five-star rated air-conditioners, the energy savings really do become significant – potentially halving a building’s energy consumption.

Conserving energy may not yet be a way of life in the UAE but the rapid changes being seen there are an indicator of what is to come. Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the UAE maintain its economic strength in the region and because of this it is one agenda that will not be going away.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

MSW Generation in the Middle East

The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in the Middle East is not only accelerating consumption rates but also increasing the generation rate of all  sorts of waste. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries has crossed 150 million tons per annum.The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. The region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the waste management sector. During the last few years, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans to Improve waste management scenario in their respective countries. 

Solid Waste Generation Statistics

Saudi Arabia produce more than 15 million tons of garbage each year. With an approximate population of about 28 million, the country produces approximately 1.3 kilograms of waste per person every day. More than 5,000 tons of urban waste is generated in the city of Jeddah alone. 

The per capita MSW generation rate  in the United Arab Emirates ranges from 1.76 to 2.3 kg/day. According to a recent study, the amount of solid waste in UAE totaled 4.892 million tons, with a daily average of 6935 tons in the city of Abu Dhabi, 4118 tons in Al Ain and 2349 tons in the western region.

Qatar's annual waste generation stands at 2.5 million tons while Kuwait produces 2 million tons MSW per annum. Bahrain generates more than 1.5 million tons of municipal waste every year. Countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have astonishingly high per capita waste generation rate, primarily because of high standard of living and lack of awarness about sustainable waste management practices.

Country

MSW Generation

(million tons per annum)

Saudi Arabia

13

UAE

5

Qatar

2.5

Kuwait

2

Bahrain

1.5

In addition, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment, human health and marine life. On an average, the rate of municipal wastewater generation in the Middle East is 80-200 litres per person per day. Cities in the region are facing increasing difficulties in treating sewage, as has been the case in Jeddah where 500,000 cubic metre of raw sewage is discarded in Buraiman Lake daily. Sewage generation across the region is rising by an astonishing rate of 25 percent every year which is bound to create major headaches for urban planners. 

Waste-to-Energy for the Middle East

Municipal solid waste in the Middle East is comprised of organic fraction, paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood etc which can be managed by making use of recycling, composting and/or waste-to-energy technologies. The composting process is a complex interaction between the waste and the microorganisms within the waste. Central composting plants are capable of handling more than 100,000 tons of biodegradable waste per year, but typically the plant size is about 10,000 to 30,000 tons per year.

Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn and landfill gas capture) or by modern conversion systems (such as anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis). The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion are combustion (in excess air), gasification (in reduced air), and pyrolysis (in absence of air). The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from urban wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity. 

At the landfill sites, the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW can be collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. In addition, the organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation. 

Anaerobic digestion is the most preferred option to extract energy from sewage, which leads to production of biogas and organic fertilizer. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or gasified/pyrolyzed to produce more energy. In addition, sewage-to-energy processes also facilitate water recycling. Infact, energy recovery from MSW is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition as the 4th R in sustainable waste management system – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Recover.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Renewable Energy in GCC: Need for a Holistic Approach

The importance of renewable energy sources in the energy portfolio of any country is well known, especially in the context of energy security and impacts on climate change. The growing quest for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been seen by many as both – a compulsion to complement the rising energy demand, and as an economic strength that helps them in carrying forward the clean energy initiatives from technology development to large scale deployment of projects from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh.

Current Scenario

The promotion of renewable energy (RE) is becoming an integral part in the policy statements of governments in GCC countries. Particular attention is being paid to the development and deployment of solar energy for various applications. Masdar is a shining example of a government’s commitment towards addressing sustainability issues through education, R&D, investment, and commercialization of RE technologies. It not only has emerged as the hub of renewable energy development and innovation but is also acting as a catalyst for many others to take up this challenge.

With the ongoing developments in the clean energy sphere in the region, the growing appetite for establishing clean energy market and addressing domestic sustainability issues arising out of the spiralling energy demand and subsidized hydrocarbon fuels is clearly visible. Saudi Arabia is also contemplating huge investments to develop its solar industry, which can meet one-third of its electricity demand by the year 2032. Other countries are also trying to reciprocate similar moves. While rationalizing subsidies quickly may be a daunting task for the governments (as for any other country, for that matter, including India as well), efforts are being made by UAE to push RE in the supply mix and create the market.

Accelerating Renewable Energy Growth

However, renewable energy initiatives are almost exclusively government-led projects. There is nothing wrong in capitalizing hydrocarbon revenue for a noble cause but unless strong policies and regulatory frameworks are put in place, the sector may not see viable actions from private players and investors. The present set of such instruments are either still weak or absent, and, therefore, are unable to provide greater comfort to market players. This situation may, in turn, limit the capacity/flexibility to reduce carbon footprints in times to come as government on its own cannot set up projects everywhere, it can only demonstrate and facilitate.

In this backdrop, it is time to soon bring in reforms that would pave way for successful RE deployment in all spheres. Some of the initiatives that need to be introduced or strengthened include:

  • Enabling policies for grid connected RE that should cover interconnection issues between RE power and utilities, incentives, facilitation and clearances for land, water, and environment (wherever relevant); and
  • Regulatory provisions relating to – setting of minimum Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) to be met, principles of tariff determination for different technologies, provisions for trading in RE, plant operation including scheduling (wherever relevant), and evacuation of power.
  • Creation of ancillary market for effectively meeting the grid management challenges arising from intermittent power like that from solar and wind, metering and energy accounting, protection, connectivity code, safety, etc.

For creating demand and establishing a thriving market, concerted efforts are required by all the stakeholders to address various kinds of issues pertaining to policy, technical, regulatory, and institutional mechanisms in the larger perspective. In the absence of a strong framework, even the world’s most visionary and ambitious project Desertec which  envision channeling of solar and wind power to parts of Europe by linking of renewable energy generation sites in MENA region may also face hurdles as one has to deal with pricing, interconnection, grid stability and access issues first. This also necessitates the need for harmonization in approach among all participating countries to the extent possible.

Conclusions

It is difficult to ignore the benefits of renewable energy be it social, economic, environmental, local or global. Policy statements are essential starting steps for accelerating adoption of clean energy sources including smaller size capacity, where there lies a significant potential. In GCC countries with affluent society, the biggest challenge would be to create energy consciousness and encourage smarter use of energy among common people like anywhere else, and the same calls for wider application of behavioural science in addressing a wide range of sustainability issues.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Green Building Rating Systems in MENA

Green buildings not only contribute towards a sustainable construction and environment but also bring lots of benefits and advantages to building owners and users. Lower development costs, lower operating costs, increased comforts, healthier indoor environment quality, and enhanced durability and less maintenance costs are hallmarks of a typical green building.

A wide range of green building rating and assessment systems are used around the world, including LEED and BREEAM. Sustainability is now a top priority in MENA region and countries like Qatar and UAE have come up with their own green building rating system to incorporate socio-economic, environmental and cultural aspects in modern architecture.

Global Sustainability Assessment System (Qatar)

The Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), formerly known as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), was developed in 2010 by Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) in collaboration with T.C. Chan Center at the University of Pennsylvania. GSAS aims at creating a sustainable urban environment to reduce environmental impacts of buildings while satisfying local community needs. 

GSAS is billed as the world’s most comprehensive green building assessment system developed after rigorous analysis of 40 green building codes from all over the world. The most important feature of GSAS is that it takes into account the region’s social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects, which are different from other parts of the world. Several countries in the MENA region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Sudan, have shown keen interest in the adoption of GSAS as unified green building code for the region.

Qatar has incorporated QSAS into Qatar Construction Standards 2010 and it is now mandatory for all private and public sector projects to get GSAS certification. GSAS combines 140 building sustainability assessment mechanisms and is divided into eight categories including urban connectivity, site, energy, water, materials, indoor environment, cultural and economic value and management and operations. Each category of the system will measure a different aspect of a project’s environmental impact. Each category is broken down into specific criteria that measure and define individual issues. A score is then awarded for each category on the basis of the degree of compliance.

Pearl Rating System (Abu Dhabi)

The Pearl Rating System (PRS) is the green building rating system for the emirate of Abu Dhabi designed to support sustainable development from design to construction to operational accountability of communities, buildings and villas. It provides guidance and requirements to rate potential performance of a project with respect to Estidama (or sustainability).

The Pearl Rating System is an initiative of the part of the government to improve the life of people living in Abu Dhabi, by focusing on cultural traditions and social values. The rating system is specifically tailored to the hot and arid climate of Abu Dhabi which is characterized by high energy requirements for air-conditioning, high evaporation rates, infrequent rainfall and potable water scarcity.

The Pearl Rating System has various levels of certification. ranging from one to five pearls. A minimum certification of one pearl is required for all new development projects within Abu Dhabi. The Pearl Rating System is organized into seven categories where there are both mandatory and optional credits. To achieve a 1 Pearl rating, all the mandatory credit requirements must be met. 

ARZ Building Rating System (Lebanon)

The relatively unknown ARZ Building Rating System is the first Lebanese green building initiative of international standard with its certification process being administered by the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC).  It has been established to support the growth and adoption of sustainable building practices in Lebanon, with a specific focus on the environmental assessment and rating system for commercial buildings.

The ARZ Green Building Rating System was developed by Lebanese expertise of LGBC in partnership with the International Finance Corp. Its aim is to maximize the operational efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. The ARZ rating system is evidence-based approach to assessing how green a building is. The system includes a list of technologies, techniques, procedures and energy consumption levels that LGBC expects to see in green buildings.

An assessor accredited by LGBC will take an inventory of the energy and water consumption, technologies, techniques and procedures that are used in the building and then LGBC will score the building according to how well the inventory matches the list of technologies, techniques and procedures that make up the ARZ rating system requirements. 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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’.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal. 

Food Waste in Ramadan

Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality estimated that in Ramadan, around 55% of household waste (or approximately 1,850 tons is thrown away every day. In Bahrain, food waste generation in Bahrain exceeds 400 tons per day during the holy month, according to Rehan Ahmad, Head of Waste Disposal Unit (Bahrain). As far as Qatar is concerned, it is expected that almost half of the food prepared during Ramadan will find its way into garbage bins.

The amount of food waste generated in Ramadan is significantly higher than other months. There is a chronic inclination of Muslims towards over-indulgence and lavishness in the holy month, even though the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), asked Muslims to adopt moderation in all walks of life. Socio-cultural attitudes and lavish lifestyles also play a major role in more food waste generation in Ramadan in almost all Muslim countries.

Economic Implications

The greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of waste produced. A good example is the case of oil‐rich GCC which figures among the world’s most prolific per capita waste generators. High-income groups usually generate more food waste per capita when compared to less-affluent groups. Hotels, cafeterias, restaurants etc are also a big contributor of food wastes in the Middle East.

Food waste generation is expected to steadily with the rapid growth of regional economies boom. The per capita production of solid waste in Arab cities such as Riyadh, Doha and Abu Dhabi is more than 1.5 kg per day, placing them among the highest per capita waste producers in the world. These statistics point to loss of billions of dollars each year in the form of food waste throughout the Arab world.

Parting Shot

The foremost steps to reduce food wastage are behavioral change, increased public awareness, strong legislations, recycling facilities (composting and biogas plants) and community participation. Effective laws and mass sensitation campaigns are required to compel the people to adopt waste mimization practices and implement sustainable lifestyles. During Ramadan, religious scholars and prayer-leaders can play a vital role in motivating Muslims to follow Islamic principles of sustainability, as mentioned in the Holy Quran and Ahadith The best way to reduce food waste is to feel solidarity towards millions and millions of people around the world who face enormous hardships in having a single meal each day.

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sustainability Reporting in the Middle East

The concept of sustainability centers on a balance of society, economy and environment for current and future health. Responsible resource management in all three areas ensures that future generations will have the resources they need to survive and thrive. One way that companies can consider sustainability and social responsibility is by focusing on the triple bottom line, which is an expanded baseline for measuring financial, social and environmental performance. It is also referred to as “People, Planet and Profit.”

The advantages enjoyed by an organisation that implements sustainable management include higher efficiency and competitiveness, increased financial returns and reduced risk for shareholders, attraction and retention of employees, stronger community relations, enhanced brand value and reputation, and improved customer sales and loyalty by responding to market needs (e.g.: including environmentally conscious consumers in your target market by providing environmentally or socially superior products to your competitors).

One certain way to prove that business is serious about doing “what’s right” is to publish a sustainability report. It shows the global community that it is serious about keeping its commitments and holding itself to a higher standard. In a world increasingly dominated by rankings and ratings, writing these reports has never been so critical; reading them has never been so revealing. Reporting, transparency, and accountability are signature issues. They illustrate integrity and build trust. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework and is committed to its continuous improvement and application worldwide.

Sustainability Reporting in the Middle East

There are some encouraging signs that sustainability reporting is beginning to take root in Middle East business landscape. In Jordan, for example, Aramex was the first company to issue a GRI checked report covering everything from staff training and salaries to promoting road safety and reducing poverty. The Jordan River Foundation became the first NGO in the region to produce a GRI checked report, thus spearheading the movement for NGOs to issue sustainability reports. NGOs that can show they’re accountable and transparent are more attractive to donors, and are more viable partners for corporations and government.

The Arab Bank recently issued its annual sustainability report for the third consecutive year, which was evaluated at a level ‘A’ by the GRI, the highest evaluation level they grant, thereby exceeding the Bank’s previous reports. The report focuses in detail on the internal programs adopted by the Bank, such as the integration of certain environmental and social criteria in the project financing process, in addition to the implementation of a number of initiatives that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also increase internal awareness levels of the sustainability concept.

Also covered in the report are Arab Bank’s social contributions which exceed financial support to include services that allow customers to donate to a number of non-profit organizations, in addition to the participation of the Bank’s employees in volunteering activities and capacity building programs for non-profit organizations to help them maintain their operations.

Another notable example is that of Zain Group, the leading telecommunications provider in eight countries across the Middle East and Africa, which recently published its second sustainability report entitled "Dedicated to the Promise of a Wonderful World". The report was prepared utilizing the GRI G3.1 guidelines and the principles of materiality, inclusivity and responsiveness taken from the AA 1000 Accountability Principles Standard. Focus was given to workers’ rights, human rights, the environment, ethics and governance, community involvement, supplier relation and gender disparity.

The United Arab Emirates is also keeping abreast of the sustainability reporting trend. The Centre for Responsible Business, which was formed in 2004, is the longest standing center promoting corporate responsibility in the UAE. The Centre not only assists Dubai Chamber members to apply responsible business practices that enhance performance and competitiveness but also offers a variety of educational, professional training and consulting services that are designed to build individual companies’ capacity to implement broad CSR programmes including business ethics, sustainability reporting and corporate governance.

In 2008, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi set up the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG), a membership-based organisation whose mission is to promote sustainability management in Abu Dhabi by providing policy support, learning and knowledge sharing opportunities for government, private companies and non profit organisations in a spirit of cooperation and open dialogue.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Hazardous Wastes in UAE

The United Arab Emirates signed the Basel Convention* in November 1992 and established a legislation called ‘Regulation for Handling Hazardous Materials, Hazardous Wastes and Medical Waste (Law 24 of 1999)’. Article 12 of the law states ‘Transportation and disposal of locally produced hazardous waste through land borders, marine environment limit and air space shall be controlled in accordance with the rules, procedure and controls mentioned and specified in Basel Agreement and in coordination with Federal Environmental Agency’.

UAE is not yet a signatory to Basel BAN amendments of Sep 1995 thus there is no mention of the Basel BAN amendments in the current federal legislation. At emirates level, various legislation were passed to organise the waste management sector in each emirates. Abu Dhabi passed the Law 21 of 2005 concerning Waste Management in emirate of Abu Dhabi. Centre of Waste Management is the Competent Authority to monitor and manage the transportation of hazardous waste in the Emirates

Major hazardous waste streams in UAE are Petrochemical waste, Medical Waste, and e-Waste. To avoid hazardous waste export the cash-rich government-owned petrochemical companies have established centralised treatment facility. Centre for Waste Management (CWM) has established treatment facilities for Medical Waste Incineration, Engine Oil treatment, Tyre Shredding through PPP business model.

The UAE Government is encouraging private companies for e-waste recycling. Major electronic distributors have established waste collection centres and subsequent transfer to established facilities. However, good fraction of e-waste is still collected in an unorganised manner and exported to South and Southeast Asian countries.

Shipment of hazardous waste coming into UAE is being well-monitored and well-controlled. In recent past only a single incident of mixed plastic waste was reported. The waste was imported through Dubai ports to be treated at a facility in Ajman. The Dubai government objected to import and the issue was raised at Environment Agency (UK). As a result, the transporting company was fined about GBP 75,000.

UAE has efficient law enforcement machinery. Thus after the establishment of CWM in 2008, there has been significant improvement in waste management in general and hazardous waste transportation in particular. Further impetus is required by the government to invest into the better treatment/storage facilities for e-waste, nuclear waste and other such waste. The legislations shall also be made more illustrative to check the aberrations regarding trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste.

Contributed by Mr. Yasir Bin Taiyab who can be reached on yasir@adh.ae

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Medical Wastes in GCC

There has been a growing awareness of the need for safe management of medical waste all over the world. Medical Waste are generated by all health sectors including hospitals, laboratories, diagnostic and research centers, dental and medical clinics, blood banks, mortuaries and autopsy centres, veterinary hospitals, industrial laboratories etc.Medical wastes which pose the greatest risk to human health are infectious waste (or hazardous medical waste) which constitutes 15 – 25 percent of total healthcare waste.

Infectious wastes may include all waste items that are contaminated with or suspected of being contaminated with body fluids such as blood and blood products, used catheters and gloves, cultures and stocks of infectious agents, wound dressings, nappies, discarded diagnostic samples, contaminated materials (swabs, bandages, and gauze), disposal medical devices, contaminated laboratory animals etc.

The quantity of waste produced in a hospital depends on the level of national income and the type of facility concerned. A university hospital in a high-income country can produce up to 10 kg of waste per bed per day, all categories combined.

 

Medical Waste in the GCC

Healthcare sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council continues to grow at a very rapid pace, which in turn has led to big increase in the quantity of waste generated by hospitals, clinics and other establishments. According to conservative estimates, more than 150 tons of medical waste is generated in GCC countries every day.

Saudi Arabia leads the pack with daily healthcare waste generation of more than 80 tons. As far as UAE is concerned, approximately 21.5 tons per day of medical waste are generated in the UAE, out of which 12 tons per day is produced by Abu Dhabi alone. Kuwait produces around 12 tons while Bahrain generates 7 tons of hazardous medical waste daily.

These figures are indicative of the magnitude of the problem faced by municipal authorities in dealing with medical waste disposal problem across GCC. The growing amount of medical wastes is posing significant public health and environmental challenges in major cities of the region. The situation is worsened by improper disposal methods, insufficient physical resources, and lack of research on medical waste management.

 

Medical Waste Generation in Some GCC Countries

Country Medical Wastes (tons per day)
Saudi Arabia 80
UAE 21.5
Kuwait 12
Bahrain 7

 

Need for Medical Waste Management Strategy

Improper management of healthcare wastes from hospitals, clinics and other facilities in GCC countries pose occupational and public health risks to patients, health workers, waste handlers, haulers and general public. It may also lead to contamination of air, water and soil which may affect all forms of life. In addition, if waste is not disposed of properly, members of the community may have an opportunity to collect disposable medical equipment (particularly syringes) and to resell these materials which may cause dangerous diseases.

According to World Health Organization, hospital-associated infections (HAI) affect approximately 5% of hospitalized patients.The complexity of infectious healthcare waste problems and the recent rise in the incidence of diseases such as AIDS, SARS and Hepatitis B open up greater risk of contamination through mishandling and unsafe disposal practices.

Inadequate waste management can cause environmental pollution, growth and multiplication of vectors like insects, rodents and worms and may lead to the transmission of diseases like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and AIDS through injuries from syringes and needles contaminated with human. In addition to health risks associated with poor management of medical waste, consideration must also be given to the impact on environment, especially to the risks of pollution of water, air and soil.

The situation is further complicated by the extreme climatic and environmental conditions of the region, which makes medical waste disposal more challenging. Since medical waste is more dangerous than ordinary trash, it is imperative on governments and private companies in GCC countries to devise a successful hospital waste management program to avoid the spread of diseases and to protect the environment.

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

An Interview with Paper Bag Boy of Abu Dhabi

Abdul Muqeet, also known as the Paper Bag Boy, has risen from being just another ordinary boy to an extraordinary environmentalist spearheading the fight against climate change in United Arab Emirates. Ten-year old Abdul Muqeet has demonstrated remarkable commitment to saving the environment and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Abu Dhabi Award. Here the Paper Bag Boy (PBB) talks to Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, about various aspects of waste management scenario in UAE:

SZ: You are considered as the ‘recycling face’ of Abu Dhabi because of your wonderful achievements. Can you give an idea of the prevalent waste management scenario in Abu Dhabi?

PBB: As far as waste management is concerned, winds of change are sweeping across Abu Dhabi. Centre for Waste Management is making commendable efforts in improving waste collection and disposal situation in Abu Dhabi. Separate collection bins for plastic, paper and general waste can now be seen at strategic locations. An underground pneumatic waste collection system is also being designed for Abu Dhabi which would help a lot in dealing with the problem of urban wastes.

SZ: What are the major factors responsible for tremendous increase in waste generation in GCC countries?

PBB: High standards of living, increasing population and consumerism are the major factors responsible for increase in waste generation across the Middle East region. Fortunately, people are doing their best to do away with this problem and everybody is working together for a better environment.

SZ: GCC countries have the highest per capita waste generation in the world. What basic measures can be taken to reduce solid waste generation in the region?

PBB: Source-segregation and mass awareness can be instrumental in reducing waste generation in GCC. Segregated bins is already helping in waste management and educating people to buy less quantity of things and recycling would help as well.

SZ: What is attitude of common people towards waste recycling in the Emirates?

PBB: A major problem is that people are usually unaware about harmful effects of garbage and benefits of waste recycling.  The government, NGOs, environmentalist etc are making constant efforts to educate the masses, and I must say that things are beginning are look up.

SZ: Keeping in view your first-hand experience in waste management projects, what future do you foresee for recycling projects in the region? Is the government providing enough support in solving the waste management problem?

PBB: The government has been very supportive, to say the least. It is formulating effective laws, providing funding, organizing community initiatives and motivating the general public to solve the waste management problem.

 

 

SZ: What is the awareness and interest-level of masses towards waste recycling?

PBB: Slowly but steadily, people are becoming increasingly aware about the harmful effects of urban wastes and importance of waste recycling. Many schools are taking measures for educating children on how to implement recycling in day-to-day life.  Shopping malls and other commercial establishments are also taking measures to minimize waste generation..

SZ: What is your idea of ‘clean and green world’?

PBB: Making changes to our daily lives to decrease waste generation, reduce global warming and minimizing the use of chemicals that deplete the protective ozone layer. We all must do our share to take care of our planet and not overusing the resources that we all share.

SZ: You are a true inspiration for millions of youngsters all over the world. What message/advice you would like to give to students and entrepreneurs?

PBB: I would like to tell them to plant more trees, recycle papers and plastic, because you need to remember that everything on earth can be recycled but not time, so take your action fast and do your part in saving the environment. If you want to make a difference, the best way to start is to follow three principles of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Plastic Waste Management in UAE

Plastics are an inseparable part of modern society. However, their safe disposal is a big and highly challenging issue. A typical UAE resident uses 450 plastic water bottles on an average in a single year1. With the equivalent of 43 gallons on an average per person in 2011, the United Arab Emirates had the fourth-highest level of bottled water consumption in the world.

A whopping 11 billion plastic bags are used annually, according to statistics from UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water. This goes on to add up to an annual overall waste of 912.5 kilogram per capita2, 3, and 4. These statistics reflect on the extent of use of plastic bags and bottles in UAE and the consequent generation of plastic waste.

Plastics are used globally in industries like packaging, construction and medical equipment among others. This is because plastics are durable, water-proof, lightweight and versatile. However, some countries use them more than others due to certain socio-economic factors. UAE has witnessed rapid growth in the last decade or so. This has been in terms of population as well as GDP per capita, both of which have more than doubled in this period5. The above two factors result in higher consumer spending. Moreover, the latter translates to greater importance, given to ‘convenience and hygienic shopping’ resulting in higher demand for plastics in packaging and shopping.

All this consequently leads to increased waste generation. From the supply side also, plastic manufacture (for all purposes including packaging) is a booming industry in UAE and rest of Gulf, one factor for it being abundance of petrochemicals, the raw material for plastics, in this region6.

Had it not been for the damage caused by plastic waste to environment and human health, trend of increasing use of plastics would have been acceptable. However, since waste is being generated at a dangerous rate and its management has become a critical challenge, a reality-check is called for. Plastics can take as much as thousands of years to degrade. Till then, they take precious space in landfills, are eaten up by unsuspecting animals & birds leading to their death or end up in sea, accumulated in certain areas called ‘gyres’.

While in landfills, plastics emit harmful greenhouse gases, which lead to ‘global warming’. This is apart from plastic waste being an eye-sore and civic menace. When in open areas, animals ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for food. Estimates suggest that 50 percent of the camels that die every year in the UAE die from ingesting them which can lead to massive calcified balls of plastic in the stomachs that eventually kill the animals.

The ultimate destination of this waste is ocean. Plastics and Styrofoam (used in disposable cups and plates) comprise 90% of the floating debris in oceans. Marine animals and birds are killed by entanglement or ingestion7, 8, 9 and 10. Further, plastic manufacture is an input-intensive process, using significant amounts of oil, water and power.

Realizing the flip-side of high use of plastics, UAE has initiated definitive corrective measures. The Ministry of Environment and Water has reported that it will ban circulation and marketing of non-biodegradable plastic products in UAE from early next year11. In that direction, Dubai Municipality have launched a “Say No to Plastic Bags” campaign starting May 2013 targeting a 20 per cent reduction in the estimated 2.9 billion plastic bags used annually in the emirate, by the end of this year. This is to be done by means of creating consumer-awareness and offering reusable and recyclable alternatives like jute and paper bags in major supermarkets12.

In Sharjah, a private company, in partnership with Sharjah Municipality, is working towards a 100% landfill diversion target set for the Emirate of Sharjah by the end of the first quarter of 201513. This is being done through development of waste management infrastructure on one hand and community education of the importance of environment principle of 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The Government of Abu Dhabi has established ‘The Center for Waste Management’ (CWM) to control and coordinate all activities related to sustainable waste management. Several non-government organisations as well as community groups are also working towards the goal of better plastic waste management in UAE.

References

(1) Todorova, V. (2011, July 31). Retrieved May 4, 2013, from The National:http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/sharjah-landfills-bulge-with-plastic-water-bottles

(2) Rodwan, J. (2011). Bottled Water 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2013, from International Bottled Water Association: http://www.bottledwater.org/economics/industry-statistics

(3)  The National. (2013, January 21). The National. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/uae-uses-fewer-plastic-bags-but-shoppers-still-go-through-11bn-a-year#ixzz2RxyWrwe7

(4) Bee'ah. (2010). Sustainability Report 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from Bee'ah-UAE: http://www.beeah-uae.com/sites/default/files/Beeah_Sustainability%20Report%202010%20(LR).pdf

(5) National Bureau of Statistics UAE. (n.d.). UAE in figures – 2001 and 2009. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.uaestatistics.gov.ae/PublicationEN/tabid/187/Default.aspx?MenuId=2

(6) Yousef, D. (2011, December 18). Petrol to plastics: Bagging the future. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from GulfNews: http://gulfnews.com/business/general/petrol-to-plastics-bagging-the-future-1.952591

(7) Time. (2013). The Global Warming Survival Guide. Retrieved from Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/environment/article/0,28804,1602354_1603074_1603179,00.html

(8) MoEW. (2013). Retrieved May 8, 2013, from UAE Ministry of Environment & Water: http://www.moew.gov.ae/portal/en/search.aspx

(9) California Coastal Commission. (2012, June 20). Public Education Program. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/marinedebris.html

(10) Science for Environment Policy. (2011, November). Plastic Waste: Ecological and Human Health Impacts. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/IR1.pdf

(11) Salma, S. (2013, March 3). UAE bans non-biodegradable plastic products. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from GulfNews: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/uae-bans-non-biodegradable-plastic-products-1.1153432

(12) Baldwin, D. (2013, April 23). Dubai Municipality launches campaign to slash 500m plastic bags. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from GulfNews: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/dubai-municipality-launches-campaign-to-slash-500m-plastic-bags-1.1174280

(13) Bee'ah. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.beeah-uae.com/about-us

 

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Freshwater Management Outlook for UAE

Per capita water consumption of freshwater in the United Arab Emirates is the highest in the world. Over the last several decades, the demand on municipal water supply has increased significantly in the UAE. This is mainly due to increase in population growth, economic development and changes in lifestyle of the people. Though water is used by many sectors such as manufacturing industries, agriculture and domestic purposes, residential  and commercial uses of water during the operational phase of the building is one of the biggest contributing factors that puts a strain on freshwater supply in the country.

Desalination and Sustainability

Due to lack of existing freshwater sources in the UAE, limited annual rainfall, high water evaporation rate, the only source of potable water in the region is the desalinated of sea water. The desalinated water contains huge amount of embedded energy due to the process involved in producing it. Apart from energy use, there are many other environmental and socio-economic issues associated with desalinated water. To name a few, there are multiple issues associated with the disposal of brine, salt intrusion, and the high costs of its production.  Forecasts show that the demand for desalinated water is expected to double by 2030. Not only the potable water production creates the problem, but also the resulting wastewater generated by the users poses many sustainability challenges such as putting strain on treatment facilities, land and surface water contamination due to overflow of untreated water, disposal of treatment sludge and expensive to production method. Hence, the management of fresh water is considered as one of the most important challenges for the United Arab Emirates.

To deal with freshwater management challenges in UAE, it is important to bring a balance between water supply and demand side. This can be done by employing strategies to increase water efficiency and conservation. These strategies include reduce the use of potable water where possible, find alternative source of water for various water usage and increase the water efficiency of fixtures and equipments.  Efficient strategies along with water monitoring that tracks water consumption and identifies problems can significantly reduce both indoor and outdoor water consumption. 

Ways to Implement Water Efficiency Strategies

The best way to implement water efficiency in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah etc is to develop a comprehensive water strategy at the early stage of project design for both indoor and outdoor water use reduction. The indoor comprehensive water strategy must include the baseline building interior water consumption information based on number of occupants in the building and the flow fixtures and other strategies used. It is required to do calculations for the both baseline water use and projected indoor potable water use based on the fixture and flow rates. The water use reduction targets can be achieved by using water efficient fixtures and appliances and by using recycled water where possible.

To achieve the targets of exterior water use efficiency and reduction, the project team has to develop water reduction strategies for outdoors at the early stage of the design. The strategies should include provision of metering facilities on all exterior water use and provision of easily accessible and clearly labelled water meters that are capable of monitoring water consumption for water uses in heat rejection, external hose bibs, irrigation system, swimming pools, water features etc.

Similarly, at the early stage of design, develop a Landscaping and Irrigation Operation and Maintenance plan. This should contain information on plant species, irrigation strategies to be used and strategies to use recycled water. The low water-use landscaping strategies include carrying out the baseline and design case calculation of building water use, developing a site plan showing the landscape areas, areas of hardscape and softscape along with their irrigation requirements. Strategies to minimise landscaping water demands should be done through appropriate plant selection, irrigations system and recycled water use. Similarly, develop strategies to reduce potable water use for heat rejection and exterior water features.

Conclusion

Use of large volume of water for building operation not only puts strain on municipal water supply and causes negative impacts on the environment but also increases the maintenance and life cycle costs of the building operations. It also increases the consumer’s costs for additional municipal water supply and treatment facilities. Hence, various water efficiency measures can reduce water use in average buildings by 20% or more. Many of the water conservation strategies have no additional cost implication or provide rapid payback while other strategies such as wastewater treatment systems and graywater plumbing system often require substantial investment. The main strategies that should be considered for water use reduction in United Arab Emirates are installation of efficient plumbing fixtures, use of non-potable water, installation of submeters, use of native adaptive plant species, xeriscaping, mulching and efficient irrigation systems.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter