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Towards zero waste

posted on 05/02/2013: 2496 views



As Sharjah continues to strive towards becoming a greener emirate, its vision of reaching a ‘green city' status by 2015 looks set to become reality with its Al Sajja Landfill.

The plant is fast becoming the UAE's state-of-the-art Waste Management Centre (WMC) and its advanced facilities are capable of reaching zero waste to landfill in the very near future.

Spread over 3.75 square kilometres — about the size of 525 football pitches — Sharjah's WMC facilities operate on high international standards and more than 500 trucks pass through WMC's gates to dispose of various waste loads.

Currently, the centre houses the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), the Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Facility (CDW), the Tyre Recycling Facility (TRF), the Car Shredding and Light Metal Recycling Facility, the medical waste facility ‘Wekaya', the compost plant, the oil lagoons and industrial waste water evaporation ponds as well as the engineered landfill.

How technology converts these waste loads can be gleaned from the CDW that churns, in just 15 minutes, any construction waste into a smaller manageable product.

The Tyre Recycling Facility — the first of its kind in the region using environmentally cryogenic processes — recycles every single tyre into three flooring tiles and the Material Recovery Facility alone is designed to process 500,000 tonnes of waste annually.

Operated by Bee'ah, the Middle East's leading and award-winning fully integrated environment and waste management company, WMC received about 2.5 million tonnes of waste for disposal in 2009. By 2012, this figure decreased by 45 per cent as a result of the combined efforts of each division and the successful implementation of various community awareness programmes across Sharjah to divert waste from the landfill.

Chairman at Bee'ah Salim Al Owais says that zero waste should be a priority for all cities: "Looking at it from an economical point of view, by extracting the valuable materials for recycling will lead to less costs and resources to extract new material from the earth. This practice helps people and companies prosper while using fewer inputs, all the while contributing to a sustainable environment and economy.”

He says that diverting all waste from landfill will lead to less dependence on landfills and will help revolutionise Sharjah's waste management processes.

At WMC, collected industrial, commercial, medical and residential waste is sorted and sent to different state-of-the-art facilities. In Sharjah, 67 per cent of total waste by weight stems from construction.

Municipal solid waste is sorted out at the Material Recovery Facility, which is the largest in the region. Here, recyclables are recovered and baled while organic and green waste is processed at the Compost Plant. WMC's Wekaya and the landfill, one of the largest in the world and the only re-engineered plant using enhanced safety practices, safely store non-recyclable waste.

The Car Shredding and Recycling Facility is the latest addition to WMC and is the world's most powerful shredding machine to date, shredding old car bodies and other light metal scrap, shredding up to 60 tonnes of car bodies every hour.

"The domestic recycling rate in Sharjah has increased from 9,909 tonnes in the year 2011 to over 15,000 tonnes in 2012, the same year the residential recycling programme was rolled out,” he says.

The biggest contributor to the increase has been plastic recycling, including PET (used in bottled mineral water) and mixed plastic, with a 35 per cent increase from 2011 to 2012, followed by paper and cardboard recycling with a 20 per cent increase.

Statistics released by Bee'ah shows that approximately 4.5 per cent of the total amount of waste received monthly at the MRF (about 54 per cent annually) is diverted from the landfill through recycling. On a daily basis, more than 30 deliveries from Bee'ah haulage fleet arrive at the MRF for processing.

In 2012, Bee'ah launched the first residential recycling programme for low-rise residential areas in Sharjah, promoting waste segregation with the introduction of 2,000 pairs of blue and green coloured bins — blue for recyclables and green for general waste. Starting at Al Shabba area, the programme continued to Khezammia then to Halwan and gradually covered the entire emirate with more than 2, 240 residential villas and low-rise buildings receiving the dual-coloured bins by the end of the year.

The programme also targets schools with more than 160,000 students in over 200 schools across the emirate promoting the message of sustainability to their families and friends.

Whatever it takes, Sharjah is on its way to becoming a green city by 2015. – Khaleej Times

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