Waste Management in Jeddah

Jeddah, a major commercial hub in the Middle East, is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. Solid waste management is a big problem in Jeddah as the city’s population is increasing at a rapid pace and has now touched 3.5 million. More than 5,000 tons of solid waste is produced every day and Jeddah municipal authorities are finding it increasingly hard to cope with the problem of urban waste.

The management of solid waste in Jeddah begins with collection of wastes from bins scattered across residential and commercial areas. Wastes is collected and sent to transfer stations from where it ultimately goes to the dumping site. Most of the MSW is disposed in the landfill facility at Buraiman which receives approximately 1.5 million tons of waste per year and has an expected lifespan of between 30 and 40 years.

Buraiman or (Almusk) Lake, has been the dumping site of Jeddah's sewage wastewater for more than a decade. Wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and then transported by truck tankers to the sewage lake. The lake lies in east of Jeddah within the catchment of Wadi Bani Malek at about 130m above mean sea level. It contains more than 10 million cubic meters of sewage water spread over an area of 2.88 km2.

The sewage lake has caused some wells in Jeddah to become poisoned due to raw sewage leaking into aquifers. Some studies have reported that water table under Jeddah is rising at 50cm per year which is attributed to the inflow of untreated sewage. As the only dumpsite for municipal sewage and industrial waste, Buraiman Lake is continuously increasing in size, constantly moving towards the south, and is now reported to be only three kilometres away from city houses.

The lake was created as a stopgap measure to deal with the increasing amounts of wastewater in the growing city. Jeddah's residents use an estimated 200 litres of water per capita per day. The lake was to be used for depositing this water until a functioning sewage system was created. But plans were delayed because of inadequate funding. As 70 percent of Jeddah households are not connected to sewerage pipelines, wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and later transported by lorries to Buraiman Lake.

About 50,000 cubic metres of water are transported to the 2.5 million square-metre lake each day. Only a small percentage of the waste water from the remaining 30 per cent of Jeddah households goes to treatment plants for purification before being dumped in the Red Sea. Most of the waste water that is accumulated through pipes is dumped directly into the sea without purification.

Keeping in view the prevalent waste management scenario, Jeddah municipality is continuously seeking ways to develop city’s sewage treatment infrastructure. However, the current infrastructure is incapable of handling the present generation of raw sewage, leading to the continued storing untreated sewage at Buraiman Lake and dumping the remaining portion directly into the Red Sea. 

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Guide to Green Camping in Bahrain

camp-sakhirThe winter camping season in Bahrain will start from 22nd October and campers will be flocking to Sakhir and adjacent areas especially during weekends. The five month camping season will be starting soon and will conclude in March 2017 with many governmental authorities managing and monitoring the camping activities to avoid occurring of any accident due to sensitivity of the area and to protect the natural environment. The camping areas have been marked and displayed for the people’s attention to book the location/ site and register their camps.

Camping is not only an outing and enjoyment but it also serve as a learning method of how to live close to the nature. Once we are enjoying the camping, we often forget and disregard the environment and mistreat it with our careless behavior.

The authorities like previous years have devised plans and programs and are creating awareness among the campers on safety and environmental concerns through media, notices, bill boards and banners. As per the rules, the campers are required to camp at least 150 meters away from any oil and gas fields and more than 50 meters away from the electricity voltage pylons and main roads to ensure their safety. This year, officials have ambitious plans to organize awareness campaigns to combat littering menace and imposing fines on violators.

The Supreme Camping Season Committee has asked the campers to camp in the allocated areas, register their camps and obtain camping label stressing that camps that are not registered or against the rules will be removed. The campers are asked to place the label in a clear and prominent place. Placing of fencing or installing signs, poles as well as afforestation work before the start of camping season are not allowed. The committee has also urged campers to maintain their safety by providing safety equipment in tents like a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit, not to use open fires or stoves inside tents and provide an independent venue for the kitchen.

Campers are advised not to store any flammable materials in the camp in any form. Camps should be established away from slopes, to avoid damages due to rain and floods, mountain heights, restricted areas or pipes. Campers have been asked to maintain cleanliness of the camps by collecting garbage in bags and putting them in the allocated spots for garbage collection. Burning waste during or after the end of the camping season has also been prohibited. The committee also prohibited establishing buildings of brick or cement, putting barriers or tires in the camping sites. Barns are not allowed for any purpose. Keeping animals and hunting is also prohibited. The engagement in any action that would harm the environment and the wildlife is prohibited. It includes the destruction of trees, wild plants, leveling the ground etc.

Protection of the environment should be embedded in camping activities

Protection of the environment should be embedded in camping activities

The principle of green camping is “If you brought it in…. you need to take it out and leave the area just as you found it.” Let us follow some basic rules for our safety, health and environmental conservation at the camping sites.

  • Use minimum illumination and electronic gadgets.
  • Switch off all electricity appliances and instruments when not in use.
  • Use minimum water and turn off the taps after use.
  • Do not store any waste at site. Keep all recyclable and disposable waste in separate bags.
  • Avoid using disposable plates, cups, cutlery, dishes etc. Use reusable dishes and utensils and wash them after each use.
  • Don’t throw any food in open. It will attract vermin, birds, insects and rodents.

Let us be more environmental conscious and respect our resources while enjoying the camping season this year.

Solid Waste Management in Iraq

Iraq is one of the most populous Arab countries with population exceeding 32 million. Rapid economic growth, high population growth, increasing individual income and sectarian conflicts have led to worsening solid waste management problem in the country. Iraq is estimated to produce 31,000 tons of solid waste every day with per capita waste generation exceeding 1.4 kg per day. Baghdad alone produces more than 1.5 million tons of solid wastes each year.

Rapid increase in waste generation production is putting tremendous strain on Iraqi waste handling infrastructure which have heavily damaged after decades of conflict and mismanagement. In the absence of modern and efficient waste handling and disposal infrastructure most of the wastes are disposed in unregulated landfills across Iraq, with little or no concern for both human health and environment. Spontaneous fires, groundwater contamination, surface water pollution and large-scale greenhouse gas emissions have been the hallmarks of Iraqi landfills.

National Waste Management Plan

The National Solid Waste Management Plan (NSWMP) for Iraq was developed in 2007 by collaboration of international waste management specialist. The plan contains the recommendations for development and which explains the background for decisions. The key principles of waste strategy development in Iraq can be summarized as:

  • Sustainable development;
  • Proximately principles and self-sufficiency;
  • Precautionary principles;
  • Polluter pays principle;
  • Producer responsibility;
  • Waste hierarchy;
  • Best practicable environmental option.

The plan generally states that Iraq will build 33 environmentally engineered landfills with the capacity of 600 million m3 in all of the 18 governorates in Iraq by 2027. In addition to constructing landfills the plan also focuses on the collection and transportation, disposable, recycling and reuses systems. Social education was also taken into consideration to ensure provision of educational system which supports the participation of both communities and individuals in waste management in Iraq.

Besides Iraqi national waste management plan, the Iraqi ministry of environment started in 2008 its own comprehensive development program which is part of the ministry of environment efforts to improve environmental situation in Iraq. Ministry of Municipalities and Public Work, in collaboration with international agencies like UN Habitat, USAID, UNICEF and EU, are developing and implementing solid waste management master plans in several Iraqi governorates including Kirkuk, Anbar, Basra, Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar.

Promising Developments

Kirkuk was the first city in Iraq to benefit from solid waste management program when foreign forces initiated a solid-waste management program for the city in 2005 to find an environmentally safe solution to the city’s garbage collection and disposal dilemma. As a result the first environmentally engineered and constructed landfill in Iraq was introduced in Kirkuk In February 2007. The 48-acre site is located 10 miles south of Kirkuk, with an expected lifespan of 10–12 years and meets both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and European Union Landfill Directive standards.

The Iraqi city of Basra also benefited from international aid with the completion of the first landfill that is compliant with international environmental standards has been completed. Basra solid waste management program developed by UNICEF will not only restore efficient waste collection systems in the citybut will also create informal “recycling schools” that will help in spreading environmental awareness in in the city’s society by launching a campaign to educate the public about effective waste disposal practices, in addition to that In the long term, the Basra city program plans to establish a regional treatment and disposal facility and initiate street sweeping crews. Basra city waste management program is part of the UNICEF program supported by the European Union to develop Iraq’s water and sanitation sector.

Erbil’s solid waste management master plan has also been developed by UNICEF with funding from the European Union. Recently a contract was signed by the Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism and a Canadian company to recycle the city's garbage which will involve the construction of two recycling plants in the eastern and western outskirts of Erbil.

UNICEF has also developed a master plan to improve the management of solid waste in Dohuk Governorate which has been finalized in June 2011. Solid waste management master plans for Anbar, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar governorates are also a part of UNICEF and EU efforts to attaining Iraq’s Millennium Development Goal targets of ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

Even though all of the effort by the international organizations are at local level and still not enough to solve solid waste management problem in Iraq, however these initiatives have been able to provide a much needed information regarding the size of the issue and valuable lessened learned used later by the Iraqi government to develop the Iraqi national waste management plan with the support of organizations such as UN Habitat, UNDG Iraq Trust Fund and USAID. The Iraqi national waste management plan is expected to ease the solid waste management problem in Iraq in the near future.

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Solid Waste Management in Qatar

Qatar is counted among the world’s fastest growing economies. Municipal solid waste management is one of the most serious challenges faced by this tiny Gulf nation on account of high population growth rate, urbanization, industrial growth and economic expansion. The country has one of the highest per capita waste generation rates worldwide which is as high as 1.8 kg per day. Qatar produces more than 2.5 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. Solid waste stream is mainly comprised of organic materials (around 60 percent) while the rest of the waste steam is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics.

Municipalities are responsible for solid waste collection in Qatar both directly, using their own logistics, and indirectly through private sector contract. Waste collection and transport is carried out by a large fleet of trucks that collect MSW from thousands of collection points scattered across the country.

The predominant method of solid waste disposal is landfilling. The collected is discharged at various transfer stations from where it is sent to the landfill. 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. However, the method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited.

Waste Management Strategy

According to Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016, the country will adopt a multi-faceted strategy to contain the levels of waste generated by households, commercial sites and industry – and to promote recycling initiatives. Qatar intends to adopt integrated waste hierarchy of prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and as a last option, landfill disposal. 

A comprehensive solid waste management plan is being implemented which will coordinate responsibilities, activities and planning for managing wastes from households, industry and commercial establishments, and construction industry. The target is to recycle 38 percent of solid waste, up from the current 8 percent, and reduce domestic per capita waste generation. Five waste transfer stations have been setup in South Doha, West Doha, Industrial Area, Dukhan and Al-Khor to reduce the quantity of waste going to Umm Al-Afai landfill. These transfer stations are equipped with material recovery facility for separating recyclables such as glass, paper, aluminium and plastic.

In this respect, one of the most promising developments 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. 

The Way Forward

While commendable steps are being undertaken to handle solid waste, the Government should also strive to enforce strict waste management legislation and create mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. Legislations are necessary to ensure compliance, failure of which will attract a penalty with spot checks by the Government body entrusted with its implementation.

Citizens can play a vital role in improving waste management scenario in Qatar by helping to reduce garbage generation and practicing source-segregation in households, offices etc. Being an influential Muslim country, the government may also take help of leading Islamic scholars to motivate the population to reduce per capita waste generation and conserve natural resources.

Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives. When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the solid waste management facility plant at Mesaieed was a laudable solution, but its capacity has been overwhelmed by the time the project was completed. Qatar needs a handful of such centers to tackle the burgeoning garbage disposal problem.

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Tackling Litter in Jordan

Garbage_JordanIn the recent past, Amman was among the cleanest cities in the world. These days, like many other countries, Jordan experiences littering of all waste types in its public areas, which has serious impacts on the environment, the economy, the aesthetic appearance of the regions that experience littering, and the public health.

The "Invisible Trash"

Littering which has become a national scourge is omnipresent in Jordan. Drive along any road in Jordan and you will see all types of  litter, including cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags, tissues, sandwich wrappers, and old tyres. To outline the problem, an observational study was carried out by the writer in 2011 in Wakalat Street. The study made manifest the erroneous perception of cleanliness in public areas.  The interviewee reported the area as “clean” and overlooked litter that had accumulated on roadsides and had filled plant pots. 

Daily scene of “invisible trash” despite the spreading of trash cans along the Wakalat Street.

Daily scene of “invisible trash” despite the spreading of trash cans along the Wakalat Street.

Reasons behind Littering

In the past few years, similar changes in population patterns have led to dramatic changes in all forms of human activities. As expected, this has led to the production of ever-growing quantities of wastes. Among the factors that contribute to increase littering are the nature of the Municipal council, lack of waste management infrastructure, an increase in the poverty rate, influxes of refugees, and, most importantly, changes in citizens’ behavior have all contributed to increase littering.  

The aforementioned study revealed another reason for littering, which was an erroneous perception of what “cleanliness” constituted. Furthermore, a gap between theoretical and practical aspects of environmental knowledge led to Jordanians’ failure to see how environmental problems applied to their daily lives. Thus, they are unlikely act on them appropriately.

Carelessness in discarding the trash in the middle of streets in Zarqa

Carelessness in discarding the trash in the middle of streets in Zarqa

Social Perception

Jordanians define littering in terms of ethics or acculturation. They perceive littering as lack of civility, education, or as a result of carelessness, as well as something that is haram (forbidden) in Islam.

Strategy to Combat Littering

Individuals and NGOs are working hard to organize many anti-littering and clean-up campaigns. Encouraging behavioral change is a challenging task due to pressing socioeconomic issues such as poverty and unemployment.

Perhaps the most distinctive level of the protection framework is public participation. Therefore, conservation efforts should include the support and participation of citizens, researchers, municipalities, industry, and other sectors. To give practical solutions to prevent littering in Jordan, it is important that they fit our cultural background and come from our pioneer heritage which should be merged with modern knowledge. The following are applicable solutions to the tackle litter problem in Jordan:

  • Adequate Municipal Waste Infrastructure

The municipal waste infrastructure has not been able to keep up with rapid growth and the influx of refugees. Sustainable disposal infrastructure and facilities as well as recycling stations are a prerequisite to solving the grim reality of the litter problem.

  • General Awareness

Fortunately, Jordanians are aware that the issue is increasing. However, volunteers become discouraged when their hard work disappears under a fresh layer of litter. Thus, a comprehensive behavioral change package should be carried out at the national level.

Despite the inclusion of environmental topics in school curricula and conveying it through the media, there is a disconnection between theoretical and practical aspects. Therefore, environmental stewardship must be made relevant to daily life. Moreover, the ideas of cleanliness have to be emphasized in the media as it is rooted in Arab-Islamic culture. More environmental stewardship programs should be adopted in schools; a leading example is the eco-schools program run by JREDS. Such programs should be extended to universities, with a community service course being integrated into graduation requirements and including a cleaning up theme.

  • Ownership

Jordanians take great care of what that they feel ownership over. The Jordanian sense of ownership of public spaces should be expanded. Nationalism should be presented as being responsible for the country and its environment.

  • Effective Law Enforcement

In 2012, GAM launched an ongoing campaign to discourage littering behavior by charging 20 JD fines for littering. It resulted in a drop in the number of littering violations by 13% within the space of a year (2014-2015), confirming the importance of implementing legislation to tackle the problem of littering. As littering is illegal in Jordan, a campaign for publishing the country litter laws that ban litter should be launched. Moreover, financial incentives for cleaning up should be adopted.

  • Community Recycling Bank 

Empowering local communities to solve their own environmental problems is essential to influence the actions of the public towards the desired goal. Recycling initiatives can be locally sustained by individual actors and should be used as income generators for the families involved. Recyclable material would be separated at the household level, then stored in a simple community recycling bank to be sold to scrap traders. Such an initiative would eliminate waste by transforming it from a nuisance to a resource.

  • Business Owners’ Responsibility

Businesses that create litter such as fast-food restaurants should play an active role in stopping litter. Their social responsibility to society and their customers’ demands that they encourage the proper disposal of food wrappers through campaigns and incentives. Furthermore, officials must oblige real estate and factory owners to maintain their land in public view and keep it free of construction and industrial waste.

  • Informal Waste Reclamation

Waste Reclaiming is the collection and reuse or sell the waste materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills by the municipal system. Creation a business model that adopt, organize, and cooperate with informal Waste reclaimers, will help in solving the waste problem and expanding Jordanian employment opportunities.

Conclusion

Today, we are in deep need for modern sustainable techniques derived from our heritage, compatible with our civilization, identity, and the climate of our country, and in consistent with the beliefs of Islam, which state to preserve the balanced relationship with the rest of the elements of creation.

 

References

  1. Abboud, N. (April 2011), Personal interviews.
  2. JT. "Princess Basma Launches Campaign to Combat Littering." Jordan Times. N.p., 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.
  3. Namrouqa, Hana. "'Over 4,000 Littering Violations Recorded on Amman's Streets in July'" Jordan Times. N.p., 05 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 July 2016.
  4. UNESCO Office in Amman." UNESCO Campaign to Combat Use of Plastic Bags in Jordan. UNESCO, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 July 2016.
  5. Hardin, Rozilla. "Roadside Litter Is a Local Problem." Elizabethton. Elizabethton, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2016.
  6. Water .. "Jordan: Tackling Marine Litter." Revolve Water. ., 2014. Web. 2016.
  7. Dahshan, Jad. "No to Littering." Jordan Times, 09 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2016.
  8. Makansi, Elena. "No Time To Waste Can This Littered Country Transform Itself?" Family Flavours Details. Web. 21 July 2016.
  9. Namrouqa , Hana. "'13% drop registered in littering violations in Amman' ." Jordan Times. Dec 30,2015. Web. 20 July 2016.
  10. SWEEPNET. "Country Report on the Solid Waste Management in JORDAN." (2014): 9. Web.

A Primer on Landfill Gas Recovery

Landfill gas (or LFG) is generated during the natural process of bacterial decomposition of organic material contained in municipal solid waste landfills or garbage dumps. The waste is covered and compressed mechanically as well as by the weight of the material that is deposited above. This material prevents oxygen from accessing the waste thus producing ideal conditions for anaerobic microorganism to flourish. This gas builds up and is slowly released into the atmosphere if the landfill site has not been engineered to capture the gas.

The rate of production is affected by waste composition and landfill geometry, which in turn influence the bacterial populations within it, chemical make-up, thermal range of physical conditions and biological ecosystems co-existing simultaneously within most sites. This heterogeneity, together with the frequently unclear nature of the contents, makes landfill gas production more difficult to predict and control.

Composition of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas is approximately forty to sixty percent methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also contains varying amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour, hydrogen sulphide, and other contaminants. Most of these other contaminants are known as “non-methane organic compounds” or NMOCs. Some inorganic contaminants (for example mercury) are also known to be present in landfill gas. There are sometimes also contaminants (for example tritium) found in landfill gas. The non-methane organic compounds usually make up less than one percent of landfill gas.

Hazards of Landfill Gas

This gas starts creating pressure within the surface of earth when no exit route is present. Excessive pressure leads to sudden explosion that can cause serious harm to people living in the surrounding areas. Due to the constant production of landfill gas, the increase in pressure within the landfill (together with differential diffusion) causes the gas’s release into the atmosphere. Such emissions lead to important environmental, hygiene and security problems in the landfill.

Accidents due to landfill gas explosions are not uncommon around the world. For example a mishap took place at Loscoe, England in 1986, where migrating landfill gas, which was allowed to build up, partially destroyed the property. Landfills in the Middle East are notorious for spontaneous fires and toxic emissions. Due to the risk presented by landfill gas there is a clear need to monitor gas produced by landfills. In addition to the risk of fire and explosion, gas migration in the subsurface can result in contact of landfill gas with groundwater. This, in turn, can result in contamination of groundwater by organic compounds present in nearly all landfill gas.

Treatment of Landfill Gas

Depending on the end use, landfill gas must be treated to remove impurities, condensate, and particulates. Minimal treatment is needed for the direct use of gas in boiler, furnaces, or kilns. Using the gas in electricity generation typically requires more in-depth treatment. Primary processing systems remove moisture and particulates. Gas cooling and compression are common in primary processing. Secondary treatment systems employ multiple cleanup processes, physical and chemical, depending on the specifications of the end use.

Uses of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas can be converted to high calorific value gas by reducing its carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen content which can be piped into existing natural gas pipelines or in the form of CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquid natural gas). CNG and LNG can be used on site to power hauling trucks or equipment or sold commercially. The gas can also be used for combined heat and power generation or industrial heating purposes. For example, the City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota installed a landfill gas collection system which collects, cools, dries, and compresses the gas into an 11-mile pipeline. The gas is then used to power an ethanol plant operated.

Landfill Gas Recovery Projects in Middle East

The number of landfill gas projects, which convert the methane gas that is emitted from decomposing garbage into power, has seen significant increase around the world, including the Middle East. These projects are popular because they control energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Landfill gas recovery projects collect and treat the methane gas, so it can be used for electricity or upgraded to pipeline-grade quality to power homes, buildings, and vehicles.

Dubai Municipality has commissioned the region's largest landfill gas recovery system at its Al Qusais Landfill site. The Al Qusais Landfill is one of the largest sites for municipal waste collection in Dubai receiving about 5,000 tons daily. Construction work for the landfill gas project involved drilling of horizontal and vertical gas wells 22 metres deep into the waste to extract the landfill gas.

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW landfill gas recovery cum biogas plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The project consists of a system of twelve landfill gas wells and an anaerobic digestion plant based on 60 tons per day of organic wastes from hotels, restaurants and slaughterhouses in Amman. 

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Recycling of Aluminium Cans

Aluminium is a soft, durable and lightweight metal, made from Bauxite ore, which is mined from the earth. Bauxite is converted into alumina, a fine white powder, which is then smelted at over 700°C to become aluminium, which is one of the versatile products universally being used by consumers in a number of applications. The process is expensive and uses huge resources, including energy and fuel. Making cans out of aluminium for storing soft drinks and juices is one of the commonly used phenomenons as it takes five tonnes of Bauxite to make just one tonne of aluminium cans.

Many of the food and drink products we buy are packaged in cans made from either aluminium or steel and both of these materials can be easily recycled after we have finished with them to make either new cans or other allied suitable products.

Aluminium cans are very common in our daily life and is often consumed as  drink containers and later thrown as garbage in bins or being littered on streets and open plots. The good thing is that these cans provide source of food and income to many poor people who resort to collect them from the bins and open areas and sell it to the middle recycling shops in exchange of money. This practice is certainly restricting huge quantities of cans going to municipal landfill sites saving valuable space and is prompting informal recyclable material collection.

The aluminium can is the world’s most recycled packaging container. We need to understand that all aluminium cans are 100% recyclable. It can take up to 500 years for aluminium cans to decompose. Aluminium does not degrade during the recycling process, which means it can be repeatedly recycled many a times. Recycling aluminium saves millions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses, energy, electricity and fuel for its transportation. Making aluminium cans from recycled materials requires less than 5% of the energy used to make new aluminium cans from Bauxite.

The recycling of aluminium generally produces significant cost savings over the production of new aluminium even when the cost of collection, separation and recycling are taken into account. Over the long term, even larger national savings are made when the reduction in the capital costs associated with landfills, mines and international shipping of raw aluminium are considered.

It is our environmental and social duty to separate aluminium cans from other domestic waste and either give to recyclers or separately discard it at bins, so that it can be easily collected by poor iterants. Before disposal, ensure that the aluminium cans are empty and not soiled and damaged. The collected cans in the Middle East are then taken to a local recycling facility where they are crushed, compacted, baled and later transported and exported to other countries for recycling, where they are milled and remade into new products.

Important fact is that recycling an aluminium can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours. If we throw away two aluminium cans, we waste more energy than is used daily by each of the billion human beings in the developing world.

We need to conserve our environmental resources and practice environmental friendly habits including aluminium can segregation and recycling. Brazil, recycles more than 98% of its aluminium can production, ranking first in the world followed by Japan with 83% recovery rate. Let us strive to make Middle East a recycling heaven and protecting our resources from any kind of pollution.

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Trash Talk from Doha

recycling-dohaOn arriving a few years ago from a town in the UK that boasts a university course in waste management, and a very efficient weekly recyclable waste collection from our houses, I was a bit shocked, like many Europeans by how difficult it was to recycle in Doha. Having had the moral obligation to recycle drummed into me since I was quite young, I felt guilty throwing away all my waste into one bin, destined to fill up a huge smelly hole in the desert, where it would take a long time, if not forever to biodegrade.

The Real Picture

I was determined to find a place to recycle and was happy when I found out that the park of Dahl al Hammam, just 5 minutes’ drive from my villa, had 7 different large recycling banks. These have to be emptied into trucks daily, due to their enthusiastic filling, mostly by Europeans who make the effort to come from many different compounds that are further away than my own. Waste materials can be sorted into two banks for paper and cardboard, two banks for metal and plastic, two banks for glass and another one for second hand but good quality clothes for charity. 

I have been trying to determine over the last four years if all our conscientious efforts to sort, collect and transport our preciously gathered waste materials have been in vain or not. Are they actually taken to factories where they are recycled into new products or not? I see a lot of small recycling bins in educational institutions, which seem to be more of an experiment to observe human behaviour, and to get people to start separating the things they throw away, rather than a real improvement in recycling. Often all separated waste from these is taken away and put in one bin, and then taken to the normal landfill!

I asked a security officer in Dahl al Hammam, and he reassured me that the materials from the banks are indeed taken to the sorting plant in Al-Messaieed. I am still a little unsure.  In Al-Mesaieed there is a very large Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC). The plant has been online since 2011 and of the waste they receive, 95% is recycled or converted into energy.  Organic material is composted at what is the world’s largest composting plant; plastics and metals recycled and other material incinerated, with the heat generated used to produce 40 MW of electricity. However this $550M plant by 2013, two years after its opening, had already reached its processing capacity of 2300 tonnes daily, for sorting rubbish.

Gravity of the Situation

In 2012 a staggering total of 871000 tonnes of solid household waste, or 28 000 tonnes per day were produced by Qatar, a rise of 7% from 2011, increasing at a rate exceeding Qatar’s Government expectations and preparations. The per capita generation of waste in Qatar of 1.6kg to 1.8kg each day is about four times that of Hong Kong and is one of the highest globally. Besides this it has been estimated that 5000 tonnes of waste are produced daily by industry and construction. In 2011 only 8% of waste was recycled.

To cope with the challenge of waste management, Qatar urgently requires more projects like Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Al-Mesaieed

To cope with the challenge of waste management, Qatar urgently requires more projects like Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Al-Mesaieed

Qatar unfortunately has the second largest ecological footprint on the planet, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s report in 2014, a substantial contribution to this is the damage to ecosystems and the carbon footprint incurred through all its imports. Being a small peninsula on the edge of the hot and usually arid Arabian Desert, Qatar has to import nearly everything that it needs from far and wide. It would like to be more independent and resilient and is working in that direction. The fall in the price of oil earlier this year, and therefore in the income of Qatar, has added pressure now to reduce expenditure, and to better balance the books. 

The Way Forward

One way it can fulfil these aims is to become more efficient in its use of resources. If it can reuse many of the materials from the products that it uses, then it will reduce the need to import more goods, thereby cutting costs, carbon emissions and ecosystem damage. This it can do this through applying the famous ‘reduce, re-use, and recycle’ motto. A famous English saying is ‘waste not want not’, which means that if you are not wasteful in times of plenty, and make maximum use of everything, then you will have enough left for times of difficulty. The Holy Quran also says, ‘O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer. Eat and drink but waste not through excess, for Allah loves not the wasters’(7:31). The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-16 aimed to boost waste recycled to 38% by 2016, a definite challenge in the face of rapid development and population increases.

One challenge in Qatar is mixed nature of most of the rubbish. This is partly due to the lack of accessible information about existing collectors of sorted recyclable materials. Another is the insufficient awareness in the most of the population about the importance of not dropping litter, reducing wastage and separating materials. An issue being addressed is the currently insufficient infrastructure to sort and separate mixed rubbish- which represents the majority of rubbish collected today. Also factories that process used materials to improve their quality are rare, and few Qatari industries utilise such salvaged materials as an input. All sectors need to work together concurrently to improve awareness and education, and the sorting, collection and processing of useful materials extracted from waste, to utilise them for the manufacture of new products in Qatar.

To facilitate these, a constantly updated website could be set up to link companies, organisations and institutions, and make them aware of each other’s waste outputs. According to the Qatar Development Bank, the revenue potential from solid waste could be as high as QR 2.24 billion with QR 979.16 million coming from recycling household waste. Hopefully more bright sparks in Qatar will soon spot the great business opportunities available from recycled materials, to help Qatar to be more self-sufficient and reduce Qatar’s ecological footprint.

Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of The Peninsular Qatar. The original article can be read at this link

Don’t Mess with Dahab – An Introduction

No matter where I were in the world right now, I'd be writing about the same problem – trash –  because it's not just the streets and shores of Dahab that are littered with rubbish. Travel to coastal cities around the world and you'll find many of the beaches in much the same state. Cairo and other places in Egypt are also dealing with their own problems of waste management.

There always seems to be a lot of talk about the obstacles we face in dealing with this problem: Garbage collection services provided by the city government are inefficient. Dumpsters are sparse and broken, causing the trash to be scattered along the road by the wind or hungry goats and sheep. The blame often gets laid on the people in charge of dealing with our trash; rarely do we take the blame ourselves.

It's time we stop for a moment and consider what we, as individuals, can do without the assistance of waste collection services, whether they are private or public. Because if there's one thing we can control, it's the amount of trash we each produce. If each of us “throws away” less rubbish, there will be less rubbish for the wind to blow around, less rubbish for the goats to scamper through, less rubbish finding its way into our seas and deserts, and less rubbish piling up in the streets waiting for someone to clean!

If you've participated in a clean-up event or had a closer look at the piles of rubbish lying around, you've probably realized that a lot of our trash is plastic. There are a lot of environmental and health problems associated with plastic and for the sake of humanity's well being, we cannot wait any longer to do something about the sheer amount of plastic polluting our earth.

Learning how to use less disposable plastic is something I've been working on personally for the past several years. Last year, I began writing the Don't Mess with Dahab blog to share with others what I've discovered. Now, I'll be contributing here on EcoMENA and I'll be sharing ways that each of us can reduce our use of disposable plastic. While I won't be able to suggest specific stores, restaurants, or companies like I do on Don't Mess with Dahab, I will be sharing ideas for alternatives to single-use plastic. I'll also discuss the different types of plastic, the problems associated with each, recyling plastics and more. As we'll see, these strategies will not only benefit the environment, but also your health and your wallet, as many of these tips will save you money.

It is my hope that my blogs will help us all become more aware, more responsible, and more pro-active when it comes to our personal health and the health of our environment.

And if you're wondering where the title of my blog, Don't Mess with Dahab, comes from, well, that's the Texan in my heart, who remembers with fondness the Don't Mess with Texas anti-litter campaign. Sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, the campaign was quite successful and over the years the phrase ingrained itself into Texan culture. It's a matter of pride. And while my blog is not focused on litter exactly, I called Texas home for 9 years of my life and the phrase Don't Mess with Texas still puts a smile on my face.

So let's all be proud of our home, native or adopted, wherever we are in the world and work towards making it a cleaner place!

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

 

WordPress Blog: http://dontmesswithdahab.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DontMessDahab

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Attitudes towards Waste Management – The Case in Oman

Plastic-recycling-bin-OmanResponses to the Oman waste management questionnaire were interesting, enlightening, and often unexpected. The Omani interviewees gave thoughtful answers and additional insights and opinions that stemmed from their sociocultural backgrounds as well as from their individual experiences. Often, statements and assertions from these respondents were found to be corroborated by evidence from other types of research, such as the study on the composition of refuse found in dumpsites in Muscat, or the feeding habits of camels cited earlier.

Food waste

On the topic of food waste, respondents generally had a strong belief that such waste was immoral. When asked about the reasons for their convictions, many of them attributed it to Islamic teachings, and recited from memory well-known statements (hadiths) from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prohibiting food waste, and verses from the Holy Qur’an such as verse 7:31: “…eat and drink, but do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love those who waste.

Water bottles

It seems that the use of non-reusable water bottles was on an exigency basis and was not the default choice for any of the respondents. However, it should be noted that all the households in this sample were either working class or middle class. Responses from a set of wealthy households might yield very different results on this issue.

Household waste

Regarding other sorts of household waste, respondents seemed to be aware that much of what ended up in their trash was packaging from purchased goods, whether food or non-perishables. As some respondents remarked in their responses, they recognized that the use of plastic bags instead of reusable bags at shops and supermarkets contributed to the plethora of plastic in their own household rubbish. One respondent in particular posited a clear causal link between the abundance of packaged, processed foods and the fact that packaging waste made up the bulk of what was in her household garbage bin on a daily basis.

Recycling programs

The majority of respondents were surprised and interested to hear that there were recycling programmes in Oman, but some were not optimistic that these programmes would soon be available in their neighbourhoods. The possibility of recycling electronics, batteries and/or printer ink was not suggested by any of the respondents, so it seems that they were unaware of any alternative to simply dumping such toxic items.

Influence of Islam

In line with the strong religious influence to which most respondents attributed their attitudes on the subjects of consumption and waste, several of them in their responses to the final question of the survey recalled this well-known hadith: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his constituents. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them … Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.”

Key Takeaways

This study has presented results based on a pilot study with a very small sample of respondents. However, if we evaluate these responses in terms of what is already documented about Oman, its society, culture and economy, we can draw some useful inferences.

It is taken for granted that, as demographic, Omani men already play a key role in consumption patterns and waste management. As leaders and decision makers in government, in business and in private sector organizations, they establish the vision and best practices of their enterprises and institutions; as heads of households and families, they make and influence consumer choices for the household and the extended family. What our survey has hinted at is that Omani women have strong opinions about consumerism and waste management, too. Furthermore, as a demographic they seem poised to contribute a greater share of the input in this discourse.

Omani women comprise approximately 25 percent of the paid labour force in Oman, and the level of this participation is expected to keep growing. Meanwhile, their substantial contribution as unpaid service providers (in their roles as caregivers, homemakers, household managers, husbandry providers for small livestock, etc.) has yet to be truly measured. Yet like their male counterparts, as managers of their own households and the individuals who make and/or influence consumer choices for the household, they have significant potential influence on how waste is managed at the household level and the community level.

Another takeaway from this survey is that the role of religion is a crucial one. We saw that respondents directly credited Islamic teachings with shaping their attitudes and opinions on consumption and waste. Indeed, in the body of authentic Islamic texts one finds directives on land stewardship; prohibiting wastage and excess consumption; prescribing conservation of land, water, plant and animal life; and even reducing, reusing, sharing and recycling.

Thus we would extrapolate from these results that the Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote more responsible consumption habits and sustainable waste management involving the four Rs. Omani culture has a strong tradition of conservative use, re-use, repurposing and recycling. Many of the traditional practices of family and community living now thought to be ‘outdated’ are actually highly efficient and ecologically sound. Omani men, women and children have the example of their grandparents to guide them in reviving and re-establishing local, traditional, sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices of careful consumption and waste management.  

Recommendations

First of all, this pilot study ought to be taken further and a full scale survey of attitudes and awareness on this topic should be conducted along the lines of the 2015 Sultan Qaboos University Department of Geography investigation on climate change awareness and perceptions in residents of Muscat. Equipped with the information gleaned from such a study, we propose that it will be found that conditions are ripe for the implementation of a network of well-designed, integrated and efficiently executed recycling programmes that are accessible to the Omani population where they live, work and go to school.

Back to Basics

Collective memory to the rescue: Consider returning to some of the ‘old ways’ – the ways the previous generation used to shop for, store, prepare, and dispose of food and other consumables. At the level of the household, families can avoid buying packaged pre-processed foods, use drinking water supply services which provide refillable containers/dispensers instead of buying bottled water, bring their own reusable shopping bags and request that purchases from shops not be placed in plastic bags.

Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote sustainable waste management

Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote sustainable waste management

Households could aim for ‘zero waste’ by applying the four Rs and participating in composting where possible. This is already being done in local rural areas, and it is a practice that is being restored in urban areas of developed countries in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.

Changing the Rules

Use consumer clout to change the practices of business and industry: It is known that businesses which serve consumers are very sensitive to customer demands. With the food service and hospitality industry, individual consumers in Oman can effect change by demanding less wasteful and more sustainable practices and options from the industry (e.g., compostable packaging, less packaging, appropriate portion sizes and eco-friendly food containers in restaurants, and filtered water instead of bottled water in restaurants and hotels).

Conclusion

This article has evaluated the results of a pilot survey of attitudes and awareness of food waste and related issues, highlighting some relevant past practices and positing that ‘collective memory,’ together with individual and communal will-power, can be harnessed to reverse the current trend and regain control of Oman’s burgeoning waste problem. The solution is local, but it has definite regional and potential global application.

Note: This is the third and final article in our special series on 'Waste Management in Oman'. The first two parts are available at Waste Management Perspectives for Oman and Waste Management Awareness in Oman

References

  1. Palanivel, T.M. and H. Sulaiman. 2014. ‘Generation and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.’ ICESD 2014. APCBEE Procedia 10(2014): 96–102 (accessed 20/02/16)
  2. Chatty, D. 2000. ‘Women Working in Oman: Individual Choice and Cultural Constraints.’ Int. J. Middle East Stud. 32(2000): 241-254.
  3. ILO and Sultanate of Oman. 2010. Memorandum: Decent Work Country Programme 2010-2013. 1-25 <available on http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/download/oman.pdf
  4. Al Buloshi, A.S. and E. Ramadan. 2015. ‘Climate Change Awareness and Perception amongst the Inhabitants of Muscat Governorate, Oman.’ American Journal of Climate Change, 4, 330-336.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajcc.2015.44026 (accessed 27/08/2015)
  5. Abdul-Matin, I. 2010. Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
  6. ten Veen, R.C. 2009. 199 Ways to Please God. UK: Fastprint Gold. 

Trash Talk from Gaza

gaza-garbageSolid waste management is considered to be one of the most severe environmental and civic problems in the Gaza Strip. Solid waste in the Gaza strip consists mainly of household waste, building debris, agricultural waste, industrial waste (mainly from worksites), medical wastes, and wastes from car workshops. Solid waste in the Gaza Strip is dumped in the same landfill without separation except for medical waste, which is dumped separately in the main Gaza landfill site. The solid waste generation rate varies between 0.35 to 1.0 kg/capita/day.

Scale of the Problem

Trash generation in the Gaza Strip varies between 830 to 894 tons/day in cities and villages and from 276 to 300 tons/day in the refugee camps. Local surveys and estimates indicate that household waste accounts for 45 to 50% of the total solid waste, construction and industrial wastes 22 to 25%, and the remaining types (e.g. commercial and institutional) 25 to 30%. Bad practices in the Gaza Strip with the absence of legislation and inspection mechanisms during the occupation resulted in inefficient and inconsistent waste collection services. On many occasions, waste is being dumped in open areas, in various places in the Gaza Strip. And to add fuel to the fire, present landfills in the Gaza Strip are overloaded. This represents a looming danger to the public health and the environment, and particularly to the ground water resources, which are already poor. Not only that but also, hazardous emissions, which are resulted from waste incineration, contain thousands of carbon tones (CO2 gas), causing the temperature to rise. Thus in turn, would be probably the cause of climate change.

Promising Initiative of AYCM Palestine

As regard with potential solutions, Governments and many NGO's have tried to solve the problem as much as possible or at least alleviate the effects, which are resulted from it. As an example of these efforts, Natuf Organization for Environment & Community Development in partnership with Arab Youth Climate Movement “AYCM” – Palestine,  implemented “ Environmental Leaders toward a Sustainable Community” project which funded by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme through GEF. During this project, an environmental initiative titled "Separation and recycling of different waste materials into reusable objects" in cooperation with 'Zero Waste MENA' team in Gaza.

The initiative was carried out in Shalehat Resort located at the Gaza beach with the participation of vacationers. The main activities included a 10-day awareness campaign, which targeted more than 200 families (about 1,400 people overall) and focused on the impacts of solid waste as well as the importance of sorting and reuse. On the final day, children event with clowns and games was held in order to raise their interest in environmental issues and encourage them to become future environmental leaders.

Recycling-Gaza1In addition, this initiative aims to create a practical model for waste recycling in the Gaza Strip in order to promote the environmental and the general awareness among residents in Gaza. Such processes, as an illustration, contribute to reducing the consumption of fresh raw materials, energy usage, air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by decreasing the need for "conventional" waste disposal and lowering greenhouse gas emissions which are considered as the main cause of climate change. As a result, Recycling can be regarded as a good strategy for waste reduction and mitigation of the climate change impacts in the long term.

Conclusions

To conclude, Gaza Strip has encountered from many serious environmental issues, solid waste management, in particular. Such issues may pose detrimental threats to our environment as well as our health. Consequently, I deeply believe that all of us, governments and individuals, should be responsible and careful about our Earth as much as we can. We should work hard together in order to save the whole environment for all of us and for the future generation.

Detrimental Effects of Littering

Littering is a common menace one can witness in all urban areas. Streets, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are mostly covered with food wrappers, soft drink and water bottles, plastic bags, handbills, cigarette butts, tissues, papers and others. Littering is most likely to take place at locations where litter is already ‘present’.

Growing Menance

Around 1.9 billion tonnes of litter end up in the ocean every year, which clearly shows that people tend to throw things randomly anywhere, more often than they throw waste in garbage bins. Litter is not just an ugly or an aesthetic problem; it has serious environmental consequences that can persist for decades. Styrofoam container takes up to a million years to decompose and break down. A disposable diaper can take more than 500 years; cigarette more than 10 and even orange or banana skins stick around for more than a month.

Litter has the potential to cause harm to human health, safety, welfare, as well as the environment. The harmful impact of litter includes trapping or poisoning animals, killing aquatic life directly through choking and indirectly through its impact on water quality. Littering can be a fire hazard and it attracts pests and rodents. Litter carry germs and rats are carriers of many types of diseases that make people ill. Litter also cause accidents as drivers try to avoid litter on the road. Young children fall on litter in playgrounds and can get injured.

Litter also harms plants, vegetation and natural areas. There are several factors that may impact on littering behaviour. These include inconvenience and laziness, absence of ownership or pride for the area, feeling that someone else will pick it up, number, placement and appearance of litter bins at or near the site, absence of realistic penalties, legislation enforcement, lack of social pressure and lack of knowledge of the environmental impacts of littering. Almost all of us litter in one way or the other. Littering is something we learn from others and unconsciously pass on to our children.

Solving the Problem

The temptation to ‘litter’ is usually motivated by disrespect to the law and its enforcement, as well as ignorance and arrogance in our attitude, thinking that somebody will clean our mess. Significant amount of money is spent to collect and clean up the litter that many people have thoughtlessly tossed out on the streets and other public spaces. The litter collection is a time-consuming and costly exercise with walking marshals collecting the litter from far off places to keep the country tidy.

Litter is a problem that can be controlled. Education is an important tool. People who are aware of the dangers of litter often make more of an effort to always put their trash in bins. They also spread the word to others they see littering and teach them to dispose of garbage the right way. Community clean ups encourage people to take pride in their neighbourhood and maintaining a healthy look. Quick removal of litter keeps it from growing into an unmanageable dump site. Litter can be conquered. People can make a difference. It is our responsibility to clean up the litter in an ‘earth-friendly manner.’

Clean communities have a better chance of attracting new business, residents and tourists. There is no reason for any of us to litter because we can always find a litter bin to throw the trash away. Let us set an example for others, especially children, by not littering and by carrying a litter bag in our vehicle, securely covering trash containers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter. When visiting parks and recreation areas, make sure to leave the area clean for the next person to enjoy and restrict the distribution and disposal of handbills.

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