GREEN GROWTH

Abu Dhabi 2019 | ENVIRONMENT & GREEN ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Salem Al Kaabi, Acting General Manager of Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer), on the growing adoption of recycling, improving regulations in the UAE, and new opportunities in waste management.

How do you evaluate the population's adoption of waste efficiency and recycling and ensure the economic sustainability of your programs?

The key is to reach out to the public using a varied range of media and communication channels. This creates greater awareness of these initiatives and highlights the other strategic approaches that are currently being designed and implemented at Tadweer. We also work together with other agencies, as we are aware that the development of a sustainable waste culture is a long-term program that will only show results over an extended period of time. Public acceptance has been increasing as it gradually adapts to the culture of source segregation and recycling. Economically speaking, we look at the most competitive bid and outsource the services to optimize operations and reduce costs. For example, public bins prevent the illegal dumping of waste, which costs the government AED20 billion (USD5.44 billion) per year.

How would you recommend the regulations in the UAE to be improved in order to have higher standards of health, safety, and environment (HSE)?

The Abu Dhabi Centre for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHAD) is the regulatory body for occupational safety and health, which has certain mandatory requirements, whereas other Emirates only comply with Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (as amended in 2007) and Ministerial Order No. 32 for 1982. When comparing OSHAD's regulatory framework with compliance with the abovementioned laws, OSHAD's regulatory framework is extremely comprehensive. In addition, there is a need for a coordinated implementation linkage between the requirements of various regulatory authorities like the civil defense, police, and so on with OSHAD.

To what extent is there a mismatch between the level of construction and population growth with the waste management infrastructure?

The Integrated Waste Management Master Plan for the next 25 years takes into account population growth as well as economic growth, which means growth in industries and commercial entities and healthcare facilities. The model-based master plan is in the process of implementation and the waste infrastructural gap will soon be filled.

What, if any, new tenders will be launched in the near future, and how can foreign investors participate?

New opportunities in waste management include a tire recycling facility, a waste-to-biofuel/jet fuel/chemical facility, a waste-to-refuse derived fuel (RDF)/solid recovered fuel (SRF) facility, waste-to-energy (for water desalination) facility, material recovery facility (MRF), green waste, and animal waste treatment for resource recovery. Such projects are typically published in local newspapers and on the center for waste management's (CWM's) website, where all interested companies can participate in arranging partnerships with local companies as per the government's requirements. Investors who express interest in doing business with Tadweer must first obtain a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce. Alternatively, they can collaborate with a local company based in Abu Dhabi or form a new company for this purpose. Subsequently, they have to approach the CWM license office to obtain approval as a waste sector entity.

In what way is technology utilized in Abu Dhabi's waste management?

Tadweer adopts fleet management integrated with RFID for waste bins to report heat maps of waste generation. Through a content management system (CMS) integrated with municipality inspector users, all deficiencies are reported in a common plate form as well as on the GIS Dashboard. Moreover, Abu Dhabi has a robotic fleet for side loading bins and an automated truck for bin washing.