Waste-to-Energy Outlook for 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. High-income Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are counted as world’s largest waste producers in terms of per capita waste generation which is more than 2kg per day in some countries. The urban waste generation from the region has now crossed 150 million tons per year which has forced policy-makers and urban planners to look for sustainable waste management solutions, including recycling and waste-to-energy.

Let us take a look at solid waste generation in major countries across the Middle East region:

Country

MSW Generation

(million tons per annum)

Saudi Arabia

15

United Arab Emirates

6

Qatar

2.5

Kuwait

2

Bahrain

1.5

Egypt

20

Tunisia

2.3

Morocco

5

Lebanon

1.6

Jordan

2

In addition, huge quantity of sewage sludge is also generated in the Middle East which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment and human health. On an average, the rate of wastewater generation is 80-200 litres per person each day and sewage output is rising by 25 percent every year across the region.

Conversion Pathways

Municipal solid waste is a very good source of biomass in the Middle East. Municipal solid waste is comprised of organic fraction, paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood etc. Almost 50% of the solid waste is contributed by organic matter.

Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn and landfill gas capture). Municipal solid waste can also be efficiently converted into energy and fuels by advanced thermal technologies, such as gasification and pyrolysis.

At the landfill sites, the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW is 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.

Relevance for Middle East

The variety of technological options available means that waste-to-energy can be applied at a small, localized scale primarily for heat, or it can be used in much larger base-load power generation capacity whilst also producing heat. Waste-to-energy conversion can thus be tailored to rural or urban environments in the Middle East, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications in the entire region.

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 GCC 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 particular, the establishment of Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre in Qatar has catalyzed public interest in deployment of waste-to-energy systems in the Middle East.

Energy recovery from MSW is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition as the fourth ‘R’ in sustainable waste management system – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Recover. A transition from conventional waste management system to one based on sustainable practices is necessary to address environmental concerns and to foster sustainable development in the region.

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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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Earth Day 2014 – Focus on Green Cities

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, marks the birth of modern environmental movement. Earth Day has now grown into a global tradition making it the largest civic observance in the world and is one of the widely celebrated events in which over one billion people from over 190 countries participate by taking suitable actions for saving our mother Earth. The Earth Day was first organised in 1970 to promote respect for life on the planet and to encourage awareness on air, water and soil pollution. Each year a different theme or topic is selected.

Earth Day 2014

Earth Day 2014 will focus on ‘Green Cities’ as a unique environmental challenge to make our livelihood environmental friendly. Due to rising population, more migration is taking place from rural to urban areas. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities with urbanisation rates rising and impacts of climate change have prompted the need to create sustainable communities. The Earth day is observed believing that nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.

It is a fact that people are crowding cities and with the increase in population density, pollution of all sorts is increasing as well. Many cities are finding it difficult to cope with this fast urbanisation and to provide basic facilities like shelter, infrastructures, water, sanitation, sewerage, garbage, electricity, transportation etc. to its inhabitants.

People who live in high-density air pollution area, have 20 per cent higher risk of dying from lung cancer, than people living in less polluted areas. Children contribute to only 10 per cent of the world’s population but are prone to 40 per cent of global diseases. More than 3 million children under the age of 5 years die every year due to environmental factors like pollution.

Earth Day 2014 will seek to create awareness amongst people to act in an environmental friendly manner, promote and do smart investments in sustainable urban system transforming our polluted cities into a healthier place and forge a sustainable future. It’s exceptionally challenging for our communities and cities to be green.

Action Plan

It’s time for us to invest in efficiency and renewable energy, rebuild our cities and towns, and begin to solve the climate crisis. Over the next two years, with a focus on Earth Day 2014, the Green Cities campaign will mobilise a global movement to accelerate this transition. Most of the Middle East nations have limited land area and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which is affecting the social and environmental determinants of health, clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

We need to audit our actions and see what are we contributing towards your environment and community? Earth Day is a day for action; a chance to show how important the environment is to us. Earth Day is about uniting voices around the globe in support of a healthy planet. The earth is what we all have in common.

Let us be a part of this green revolution, plan and participate in Earth Day activities moving from single-day actions, such as park cleanups and tree-planting parties to long-term actions and commitments and make our city a healthier place to live as the message of the Earth Day is to “Actively participate and adopt environmental friendly habits”.

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Islamic Principles on Sustainable Development

A huge number of verses in Qura’n and several sayings of the Prophet Muhammad indicate the great importance that has been given to environmental concerns and the responsibility of man to the environment. The concept of sustainable development in Islam can be defined as “The balanced and simultaneous realization of consumer welfare, economic efficiency, attainment of social justice, and ecological balance in the framework of a evolutionary knowledge-based, socially interactive model defining the Shuratic process”The Shuratic process is the consultation or participatory ruling principle of Islam.

The over arching principle in the use of nature is derived from the prophetic declaration that states: "There shall be no damage and no infliction of damage". The right to benefit from the essential environmental elements and resources such as water, minerals, land, forests, fish and wildlife, arable soil, air and sunlight is in Islam, a right held in common by all members of society.  Each individual is entitled to benefit from a common resource subject to establishing the degree of need, (needs have to be distinguished from wants) and the impact on the environment.

Earth is mentioned 61 times in the Qura’n. According to Islam, the universe has been created by Allah (God) with a specific purpose and for a limited time. The utilization of natural resources (ni‘matullah – the gifts of Allah) is a sacred trust invested in mankind; he is a mere manager and not an owner, a beneficiary and not a disposer. Side by side, the Islamic nation has been termed as) ummatan wasatan) the moderate nation in the Qur’an, a nation that avoids excesses in all things. Thus, Muslims in particular have to utilize the earth responsibly for their benefit, honestly maintain and preserve it, use it considerately and moderately, and pass it on to future generations in an excellent condition. This includes the appreciation of its beauty and handing it over in a way that realizes the worship of Allah.

The utilization of all natural resources – land, water, air, fire (energy), forests, oceans – are considered the right and the joint property of the entire humankind. Since Man is Khalifatullah (the vicegerent of Allah) on earth, he should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of others, and regard his mastery over his allotted piece of land as a joint ownership with the next generation. 

Land Reclamation

Prophet Muhammad said, "Whosoever brings dead land to life, for him is a reward in it, and whatever any creature seeking food eats of it shall be reckoned as charity from him". The Prophet in another occasion said, "There is no Muslim who plants a tree or sows a field for a human, bird, or animal eats from it, but it shall be reckoned as charity from him"; and, "If anyone plants a tree, no human nor any of the creatures of Allah will eat from it without it being reckoned as charity from him". This testifies the importance the Prophet in the early days of Islam has given to reclamation of land and the equal rights of all God’s creatures to benefit from the resources of earth. 

Wildlife Protection

Wildlife and natural resources are protected under Shariah (Rules of Islam) by zoning around areas called “hima”. In such places, industrial development, habitation, extensive grazing, are not allowed. The Prophet himself, followed by the Caliphs of Islam, established such “hima” zones as public property or common lands managed and protected by public authority for conservation of natural resources.

Water Rights

In the Shariah, there is a responsibility placed on upstream farms to be considerate of downstream users. A farm beside a stream is forbidden to monopolize its water. After withholding a reasonable amount of water for his crops, the farmer must release the rest to those downstream. Furthermore, if the water is insufficient for all of the farms along the stream, the needs of the older farms are to be satisfied before the newer farm is permitted to irrigate. This reflects the sustainable utilization of water based on its safe yield.

Environment Protection

The rights to benefit from nature are linked to accountability and maintenance or conservation of the resource. The fundamental legal principle established by the Prophet Muhammad is that "The benefit of a thing is in return for the liability attached to it.” Much environmental degradation is due to people's ignorance of what their Creator requires of them. People should be made to realize that the conservation of the environment is a religious duty demanded by God. God has said.  “And do good as Allâh has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allâh does not love the corrupters”, (Al Qasas 28:77.(

Waste Generation

Islam calls for the efficient use of natural resources and waste minimization. God says in Qura’n: “Eat and drink, but waste not by excess; “He” loves not the excessive”, (Al-A'raf 7:31). "And do not follow the bidding of the excessive, who cause corruption in the earth and do not work good”, (Ash-Shu'ara 26: 151-152). “And do not cause corruption in the earth, when it has been set in order”, (Al-A'râf 7:56).

Water Pollution

Water also plays another socio-religious function: cleaning of the body and clothes from all dirt, impurities, and purification so that mankind can be presentable at all times. Only after cleaning with pure (colorless, odorless and tasteless) water, Muslims are allowed to pray. One can only pray at a place that has been cleaned. In light of these facts, Islam stresses on preventing pollution of water resources. Urinating in water (discharging wastewater into water stream) and washing or having a bath in stagnant water are forbidden acts in Islam. The Prophet said: "No one should bathe in still water, when he is unclean”. 

Water Conservation

The teachings of Prophet Muhammad emphasize the proper use of water without wasting it. The Prophet said: “Don’t waste water even if you are on a running river”. He also said: “Whoever increases (more than three), he does injustice and wrong”.  

Sustainable Forestry

Islamic legislation on the preservation of trees and plants finds its roots in Qura’nic teachings of Prophet. They include the following:Whoever plants a tree and looks after it with care, until it matures and becomes productive, will be rewarded in the Hereafter” and “If anyone plants a tree or sows a field and men, beasts or birds eat from it, he should consider it as a charity on his part". He is also reported to have encouraged tree planting as a constructive practice, saying that even if one hour remained before the final hour and one has a palm-shoot in his hand, he should plant it. Even at times of war, Muslim leaders, such as Abu Baker, advised their troops not to chop down trees and destroy agriculture or kill an animal.

Public Participation

The protection, conservation, and development of the environment and natural resources is a mandatory religious duty to which every Muslim should be committed. This commitment emanates from the individual's responsibility before God to protect himself and his community.  God has said, "Do good, even as God has done you good, and do not pursue corruption in the earth. God does not love corrupters”.

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Insights into WTE Industry

Waste-to-Energy is the use of modern combustion and biochemical technologies to recover energy, usually in the form of electricity and steam, from urban wastes. These new technologies can reduce the volume of the original waste by 90%, depending upon composition and use of outputs. The main categories of waste-to-energy technologies are physical technologies, which process waste to make it more useful as fuel; thermal technologies, which can yield heat, fuel oil, or syngas from both organic and inorganic wastes; and biological technologies, in which bacterial fermentation is used to digest organic wastes to yield fuel.

Global Scenario

Around 130 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) are combusted annually in over 600 waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities globally that produce electricity and steam for district heating and recovered metals for recycling. Since 1995, the global WTE industry increased by more than 16 million tonnes of MSW. Incineration, with energy recovery, is the most common waste-to-energy method employed worldwide. Over the last five years, waste incineration in Europe has generated between an average of 4% to 8% of their countries’ electricity and between an average of 10% to 15% of the continent’s domestic heat.

Currently, the European nations are recognized as global leaders of the SWM and WTE movement. They are followed behind by the Asia Pacific region and North America respectively. In 2007 there are more than 600 WTE plants in 35 different countries, including large countries such as China and small ones such as Bermuda. Some of the newest plants are located in Asia.

The United States processes 14 percent of its trash in WTE plants. Denmark, on the other hand, processes more than any other country – 54 percent of its waste materials. As at the end of 2008, Europe had more than 475 WTE plants across its regions – more than any other continent in the world – that processes an average of 59 million tonnes of waste per annum. In the same year, the European WTE industry as a whole had generated revenues of approximately US$4.5bn.

Legislative shifts by European governments have seen considerable progress made in the region’s WTE industry as well as in the implementation of advanced technology and innovative recycling solutions. The most important piece of WTE legislation pertaining to the region has been the European Union’s Landfill Directive, which was officially implemented in 2001 which has resulted in the planning and commissioning of an increasing number of WTE plants over the past five years.

Middle East Scenario

Unfortunately, Middle East is yet to witness real activity in waste-to-energy sector. There has been several promising initiatives in the past few years, especially in Qatar, UAE and Jordan but more efforts are required to make waste-to-energy a byline for sustainable development. The Middle East is well-poised for waste-to-energy development, with its rich feedstock base in the form of municipal solid wastes.

The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in the Middle East is not only accelerating consumption rates but also accelerating the generation of solid waste. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries is estimated at more than 150 million tons annually which could be better managed if waste-to-energy is incorporated in the solid waste management strategy in Middle Eastern countries.

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A Glance at Waste-Free Economy

Growth from trashing the planet was never a clever idea and linear economics has now reached the end of the line. The ‘more is better’ economy does not need to be stimulated to grow nor constrained from growing. It needs to be entirely replaced by ‘positive development’ in which markets work to automatically, systematically make things better both locally and globally. The folly of endless resources extraction, endlessly unmet human needs and endless waste dumping can end. Linear economics can be replaced by ‘circular economics’

Waste-Free Growth Model

A switch towards waste-free growth would preserve and regenerate material value and natural capital instead of losing it, so growth would work to build the physical basis for more growth. So long as this happens soon enough, there is no end-point; growth that preserves the resources on which it depends may expand with no theoretical limit to the monetary value of final services that can be produced from a given physical resource input. The future for growth is circular economics where greater economic activity would mean a faster pace of change away from waste-making and towards looking after the world and all its inhabitants. 

What is Circular Economy

In a circular economy profits, jobs and growth come not from extracting, moving, shaping, selling and dumping ever more resources, but from the work done and value created by handling resources with sufficient care that ecosystems and total natural resources actually expand, making it possible to meet human needs everywhere. There would still be unwanted materials to ‘get rid of’ but they would not end up accumulating in ecosystems, they would instead be regenerated as new resources for the Earth and for the economy.

There are no material or non-material human needs that inherently require resources to be lost as wastes in ecosystems. The daunting gulf between the current waste-making economy and tomorrow’s waste-free economy may be reimagined as a vast exciting source of work, jobs and growth.

Making the Switch

The activities needed to switch from linear to circular economics include work on resources, such as doing more with less, cradle to cradle design, doing without accumulative toxics, local recycling and composting everywhere, and reversing the global loss of ecological productivity. Envisage taking the loose ends of the linear economy (extraction and dumping) and joining them together so the new circular economy gains a reliable feedstock of resources.

Abundant energy, arriving free-of-charge from outside the biosphere would provide the thermodynamic input to run circular economics and the potential for regenerating existing accumulations of waste (such as GHG) into new biological and geological resources. Most of the perceived ‘limits of nature’ are limited only by linear economics.

Major Ingredients

The activities needed to switch to circular economics also include non-technical work to create suitable societal conditions such as inclusiveness, sharing and co-operation. A linear economy, with diminishing resources and prospects, inevitably invites alienation, hoarding and conflict – as if the game is for everyone to grab what they can while it lasts.

A circular economy would not need to sell people things they don’t need so radical shifts of culture are invited, such as social status defined by sharing rather than hoarding. Genuine hope for the future could cut urges to indulge in crime, corruption and cheating. Our innate human values of compassion could expand to include all people and all life, with massive economic benefits that are barely imaginable today.

 

Note: This article was originally published by Edie.net newsroom

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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.

Solid Waste Management Challenges in GCC

garbage-dump-kuwaitThe challenges posed by solid waste to governments and communities are many and varied. In the Gulf Cooperation Council region, where most countries have considerably high per capita waste generation values, the scale of the challenge faced by civic authorities is even bigger. Fast-paced industrial growth, recent construction boom, increasing population, rapid urbanisation, and vastly improved lifestyle coupled with unsustainable consumption patterns have all contributed to the growing waste crisis in the GCC.

Among the GCC nations, United Arab Emirates has the highest municipal solid waste generation per capita of 2.2 kg (which is among the highest worldwide) followed closely by Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain. The total urban waste generation in the GCC has been estimated to be around 150 million tons per annum, with MSW being the second largest stream after construction wastes.

Key Challenges

A look at the composition of municipal solid waste in GCC nations suggests that it is largely decomposable and recyclable. However, at present waste disposal into landfills/dumpsites remains the widely practiced method. In countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain where limited land is available, this doesn’t seem to be most prudent option. At present, GCC waste management sector is facing multiple challenges in the form of:

  1. Lack of clear reliable framework by which the solid waste sector is administered from the collection, transformation to disposing or treatment phases
  2. Absence  of effective and comprehensive legislative frameworks governing the solid waste sector and the inadequate enforcement mechanisms, which are no less important than the legislations themselves
  3. Management activities of MSW are considered public services
    which are directly controlled by governmental institutions. Such management arrangement is considered weak as it lacks market mechanisms, and in this case economical incentives cannot be used to improve and develop the MSW management services
  4. Inadequate human and organizational capacities and capabilities
  5. Scarcity of accurate and reliable background data and information on the status of solid waste such as rate of generation of different solid waste constituencies, assessment of natural resources and land-use,   and transportation needs, scenarios of treatment, growth scenarios of solid waste which are linked to several driving forces. Needless to say, data and information are the crucial elements for developing MSW management system including the adequate monitoring of the sector.
  6. Inadequate waste strategies/management infrastructure:  In most GCC countries existing waste handling capacities are insufficient. Presently recyclable recovery rate is low. Further, in the absence of local recycling facilities, there is no alternative except to dump the otherwise recyclable material at Landfills.
  7. Waste recycling is expensive: Though recent years have seen an increase in the number of waste recycling facilities the economics of recycling is still not very favourable. In many cases recycling waste is expensive compared to buying the product which can be attributed to lack of recycling facilities.
  8. Under developed market for recycled products: Insufficient demand for recycled products in the local market is another reason, which has hampered the growth of the waste recycling industry.
  9. Public attitude: Economies in the GCC countries are oil dependant due to high reserves of fossil fuels. For several decades alternatives such as solar and wind were not considered and oil was the easier option.  Recently and due to drop in oil prices more consideration is given to renewable sources. Similarly waste was mainly landfilled as it was the easier choice, yet due to known complication with such treatment, more suitable measures were considered. Therefore there is the need for an effective comprehensive “education and awareness” program in regards of these two issues

The Way Forward

GCC urgently requires an ambitious sustainable development agenda with waste management (minimisation, reuse and recycling) among its main priorities. Waste has a range of environmental impacts, on air, water, and land and also is a major economic drain, especially on city budgets. It is estimated that 50% of a city’s budget is spent on waste management. The inefficient use of scarce resources reflected in materials discarded and abandoned as waste represents a huge economic and environmental cost borne by society as a whole.

GCC urgently requires more recycling facilities, like this MRF in Sharjah

GCC urgently requires more recycling facilities, like this MRF in Sharjah

Management of solid waste is a serious challenge faced by most modern societies. But waste is not only a challenge: it is also a largely untapped opportunity. Proper waste management presents an opportunity not only to avoid the detrimental impacts associated with waste, but also to recover resources, realise environmental, economic and social benefits and take a step on the road to a sustainable future. The benefits arise when waste is treated as a resource, a resource that can be
recovered and put to productive and profitable use. Products can be reused and the materials that make them up can be recovered and converted to other uses or recycled.

Ramadan: A Catalyst for Green Living

green-ramadanThe true meaning of Ramadan is to take care of our body, soul, people, surrounding and ecosystems. The month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity to make a real shift towards ‘green living’ that is environmental friendly, non-polluting, non-wasteful and aim toward saving of natural resources. During Ramadan, let us create awareness on use of resources, think and act positively towards our environment and change our unfriendly habits which are impacting our ecosystem. Let us seize this opportunity to adopt a model for a green and responsible behavior that addresses urgent environmental issues. 

Ramadan witnesses an over-consumption of meat, vegetables and fruits together with drinks, juices and syrups. We become more extravagant in terms of using food and resources. So, let us be patient on these consumptions, eat healthy and organic food in manageable quantities. Let us grow vegetables and fruits at our available land/ space. Use food items judiciously and avoid any wastage.

Let us be away from our routine habits that pollute our air, soil and water resources. Let us be aware of our wasteful habits which are affecting the environment and our future generations. We need to understand that any mismanagement of our precious available resources will be having an irreversible impacts on our ecology and for our future generations. Let us make concerted effort to encourage and embrace “green” practices, especially during Ramadan.

environment-protection-muslims

Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries for the year. It is a time to seek forgiveness for our misgivings and to reflect upon the signs of creation from Allah. As human beings, we have a duty as stewards over this planet, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the resources and environment are used in a sustainable manner.

Let this month not only harness our mental and physical ability but also be a turning point for respecting our resources and environment. Some basic thoughts are:

  • Support and utilize local produce. 
  • Plan food usage with no wastage. 
  • Reducing the water usage, especially during making ‘wadoo’/ ablution. Be vigilant that the tap is closed. Any dripping should be eliminated to conserve precious water.
  • Generating less quantity of waste especially food waste. Support & practice recycling and reuse. 
  • No littering especially in common areas, commercial and religious places and shopping areas.
  • Minimum or no use of plastic bags. Using less paper and stationery.
  • Switching off appliances after use like lights, ACs, fans, heaters, iron etc.
  • Using electrical appliances like washing machines, iron, vacuum cleaner and dishwashers in off peak hours. 
  • Eliminate use of disposables plates, cutlery, cups, containers etc. Avoid using Styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery. 

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.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Tips for a Green Ramadan

Ramadan is quite different from other months in terms of activities, praying and eating habits. During this month, Muslims should abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset to boost physical and mental endurance and to understand the hardships faced by the poor and needy  who do not have enough resources to satisfy their basic necessities. The true meaning of Ramadan is purifying ourselves, taking care of our body, soul, people, surrounding and ecosystems which is supporting us.

The month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity to consider making a shift towards a ‘green lifestyle’ that is environmental friendly, non-polluting, non-wasteful and aim toward saving of natural resources. The green lifestyle means improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable development.

Like celebrating so many environmental days, Earth Day, World Environment Day etc., why not celebrate the Ramadan as a greening month. Let us create awareness on the subject, think and act positively towards our environment and change our unfriendly habits which are impacting our ecosystem. Let us seize this opportunity provided by Ramadan and offer a model for a green and responsible behavior that addresses the urgent environmental issues.

Go Green During Ramadan

Ramadan witness an overconsumption of meat, vegetables and fruits together with drinks, juices and syrups. We become more extravagant in terms of using food and resources. So, let us exercise moderation on these consumptions, eat healthy and organic food in manageable quantities. Let us grow vegetables and fruits at our available land. Use food items judiciously and avoid any wastage.

Let us be away from sins and habits that pollute our air, soil and water resources. Let us be aware of our wasteful habits which are affecting the environmental and our future generations. Any mismanagement of our precious resources will be having irreversible impacts on our ecology. Let us make concerted effort to encourage and embrace “green”  and ecofriendly practices, especially during Ramadan.

Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries for the year. It is a time to seek forgiveness for our misgivings and to reflect upon the signs of creation from Allah. As Muslims, we have a duty as stewards over this planet, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the resources and environment are used in a sustainable manner.

Let this month not only harness our mental and physical ability but also be a turning point for respecting our resources and environment. Some basic tips for a green Ramadan are:

  • Support and utilize local produce.
  • Plan food intake with proper nutrition and at suitable timings.
  • Cut down and eliminate intake of fast food.
  • Reducing the water usage, especially during making ‘wadoo’/ ablution. Be vigilant that the tap is closed. Any dripping should be eliminated to conserve precious water.
  • Reducing our energy and carbon footprint.
  • Generating less quantity of waste. Emphasizing on recycling and reuse.
  • No littering at any places especially common areas, commercial and religious places and shopping areas.
  • Minimum or no use of plastic bags. Using less paper and stationery.
  • Switching off appliances after use like lights, ACs, fans, heaters, iron etc.
  • Using electrical appliances like washing machines, iron, vacuum cleaner and dishwashers in off peak hours.
  • Planting a tree and taking care of plantation.
  • Replacing lights blubs from incandescent to CFLs or LEDs and turning off lights when they are not in use.
  • Similarly, at the mosque, keeping outside doors closed when the air conditioning is on and dimming the lights also reduces energy consumption as well.
  • Eliminate disposables plates, cutlery, cups, containers etc.
  • Avoid using Styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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