Facilities Management Middle East
CLOSING THE LOOP
Jamal Abdulla Lootah, group chief executive officer at Imdaad, explains the role of waste management in a circular economy
Closing the loop through effective waste management methods including recycling and energy recovery are important in achieving a circular economy, reveals Jamal Abdulla Lootah, group chief executive officer at Imdaad. He adds: “The waste management sector must adopt the best practices to ensure safe and environmentally friendly waste disposal, besides phasing out waste disposal in the long run. Waste management methods must incorporate innovative techniques to ensure that the relevant nutrients are preserved in wastes to ensure their use in the agroeconomic cycle, thereby also reducing agriculture’s dependence on chemical fertilizers and fossil sources. More sustainable approaches to collecting, transporting, and recycling wastes need to be developed, besides improving the efficiency and quality of the waste sorting and recycling processes.”
As an Integrated Facilities Management Company Imdaad has always been keen to further enhance its portfolio of integrated, sustainable facilities management services through the adoption of new technology and innovation to address issues facing current and future communities, reveals Lootah. Farz, Imdaad’s material recovery facility (MRF) in Dubai, supports the UAE’s waste minimisation efforts through its integrated smart technology. The facility endeavours to close the recycling loop within the country in the long term, thereby contributing to the efforts to embrace the circular economy and monetise waste in line with the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda goal of diverting 75% of all municipal solid waste away from landfills by 2021, while also contributing to a greener tomorrow. Towards this end, Farz plans to collaborate with
SMART WASTE MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS THAT USE INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY ARE CRUCIAL TO THE EFFORTS TO ‘CLOSE THE LOOP’ IN LINE WITH CIRCULAR ECONOMY ASPIRATIONS.
companies that require a regular supply of raw materials.
The establishment of Farz has also been in line with Imdaad’s long-term sustainability goals. The new plant eliminated the need for the company’s fleet of over 100 vehicles to travel an additional 60km every day to the landfill site for waste disposal, hence reducing CO2 emission by over 19,250kg per day.
SMART WASTE MANAGEMENT
“The increasing quantities of waste and its effective management are major concerns all over the world, primarily due to the inefficient methods of waste collection and management used widely. Smart waste management solutions that use innovative technology are crucial to the efforts to ‘close the loop’ in line with circular economy aspirations,” Lootah reveals.
Farz’s capacity to process 1,200 tonnes of municipal, commercial, and industrial waste daily represents almost 13% of the total waste generated daily in Dubai. The facility uses cutting-edge magnetic, optical, and ballistic separators and smart recovery technologies to segregate and reclaim valuable materials including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), PE bags, Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC), and wood from the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) and source-segregated mixed waste Imdaad collects daily from around the city. With advanced segregation technologies, Farz boasts the most efficient recovery rate in the UAE (25-30%). All segregation processes are completely automated, with manual intervention required only for quality control. The reclaimed materials are stored at the facility in the form of bales, which are later sold to buyers in the UAE or overseas.
In addition, plans are underway to produce Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) at Farz in line with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s decree calling on cement factories to use alternative fuels.
One of the major challenges facing the waste management sector, with regards to the current pandemic situation, Lootah says is that there is the risk of cross-contamination of general waste with PPE. He says: “There is a lack of awareness among the public regarding safe methods to dispose of single-use masks and gloves, due to which people continue leaving them in general waste bins and even recycling bins. According to recent estimates, over 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves are used worldwide every single month due to the pandemic, compounding the problem further. In a country like the UAE with a diverse, floating population, it is often not easy for waste management companies to create awareness among the public on the proper methods of waste disposal. Residents here usually move communities every 2-3 years on average, which reduces the effectiveness of the training and awareness programs conducted for various communities.”
The UAE’s per capita waste generation is among the world’s highest, with a significant part of this disposed of in landfills. By facilitating the recycling of wastes, Farz has been helping to reduce the amount of refuse that ends up in the UAE’s landfills, delivering economic, health, and environmental benefits to the country’s residents and environment. Imdaad has been actively involved in creating awareness on the importance of waste segregation at source and has been providing dedicated bins for different kinds of waste for the provision of source segregation. The company has introduced several initiatives to encourage source segregation at the grassroots level, including the launch of an innovative ‘Reverse Vending Machine’ initiative in cooperation with Dubai Customs, the ‘Envirocare Month’ campaign to raise awareness on the importance of responsible waste management, and the Be’ati program to raise awareness among the nation’s young generation of the need for waste segregation and recycling as a vital component of environmental sustainability.
Lootah says: “Imdaad’s mechanism for collecting, transporting, and incinerating medical wastes was an important contribution to the UAE’s fight against the pandemic last year. The company has been constantly adopting sustainable practices across all its operations in line with its commitment to the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda, in addition to employing ground-breaking technologies and offering innovative services, setting an example for the regional FM industry.”
In conclusion Lootah says: “It would be a good idea to have a proper waste management plan in place right from the construction phase of a new project, to effectively manage all types of wastes without affecting the health of the residents or the environment. Currently, waste management plans focus only on general waste and recyclables, with no proper direction on managing other types of wastes like green, bulky, etc., during the initial period of development. By devising a comprehensive plan, waste generation can be minimised, and on-site reuse and recycling can be maximised, besides ensuring that all wastes are disposed of safely.”