WASTE NOT WANT NOT

Oman 2020 | SUSTAINABILITY | INTERVIEW

Be'ah is committing the Sultanate to a sustainable future, one plastic bottle at a time.

Tariq Ali Al-Amri
BIOGRAPHY

Tariq Ali Al-Amri became CEO of be'ah in 2011, bringing more than 26 years of experience spanning over many industries. He started his career as a project engineer working for Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) and later joined a government pension fund as head of investment. He then moved to Oman LNG as head of strategic finance, where he was responsible for the economics of Qalhat LNG project. In 2004, he joined Omantel as head of finance before he was assigned the role of vice president responsible for the commercial, finance, HR, and corporate affairs. Al-Amri holds an MBA and BSc in electrical engineering, both from the US.

How has your strategy to expand and cover the whole country evolved over the last year, and what have been the major highlights?
We have come a long way since we embarked on our journey to provide sustainable waste management practices in the country. We have closed down over 300 traditional dumpsites across the Sultanate. Our strategy for developing municipal solid waste (MSW) involved setting up the required infrastructure of engineered landfills and transfer stations in all governorates and outsourcing 10 service contracts to cover the collection and disposal of municipal waste across the country. We have established 10 engineered landfills and 14 transfer stations so far and all are operational. For healthcare waste, we are using a network of three healthcare waste treatment facilities treating waste generated from all governmental and private hospitals and clinics. We are also handling industrial hazardous waste at our established facilities in North Al Batinah and in Duqm. These facilities are part of our integrated hazardous waste treatment facilities. The second phase of this project will witness the establishment of an incineration unit, a physical and chemical treatment unit, and a solidification unit. The completion of the integrated hazardous waste treatment facilities shall bring a sustainable solution for the treatment of industrial hazardous waste and provide the required support for our industrial sector. In reference to our strategic goal of reducing the amount of waste disposed at landfills, our diversion strategy paves the way for the initiatives and projects that are in the pipeline to achieve that goal. To highlight a few, we signed a memorandum of understanding with PDO for the development of a waste-to-steam project for the application of enhanced oil recovery. We are also cooperating and facilitating the operations of two lead acid battery recycling facilities. In addition, we have allocated 20 sites across the Sultanate to receive, handle, and recycle construction and demolition (C&D) waste. Similarly, there are investment opportunities to utilize end of life tires (ELT). Another major highlight is the new private-sector investment to establish a paper recycling plant at Sohar Industrial Estate. In addition, be'ah will supply around 30,000 tons per annum of tire-derived fuel, providing Oman Cement Company a fuel alternative to help reduce the consumption of valuable natural gas. Biogas projects are also key components of be'ah's diversion strategy. These projects combined will provide the Omani market with jobs and increase in-country value, offering various investment opportunities. They will also contribute to Oman's renewable energy target (renewable sources covering 30% of energy demands by 2030) and offset the environmental impact caused by increased waste generation.

What is the key to getting the banking sector involved in the process of developing a circular economy?
Financial institutions are key enablers to move to a circular economy, so we need to have different key factors in place. One is the government, by enabling and facilitating the proper legal framework. Then there are the financial instruments such as fees. There is also the extended producer responsibility scheme (EPR). These are mainly applied on other waste streams such as electronics, tires, and packaging materials. A nominal fee is to be charged on such products, then that EPR fee will go to a fund that will finance the activities related to the recycling and treatment of such waste streams. This framework will provide incentives for producers to change product designs and adopt innovative ways that are environmentally friendly and a great opportunity for financial institutions to foster innovation among SMEs by providing some incentives for these projects.

What technological upgrades are you expecting to have the greatest impact in meeting your targets?
There are a great deal of tried-and-tested technologies used in the waste management sector, with most focus being directed recently on enhancements to increase efficiency. Most importantly, what we are working on now is the control tower, which connects all our operations under one system by integrating different data sources such as sensors, CRMs, IVMS, and smart devices across various touch points and operational units. This system will enable us to monitor operations, capture and analyze data, and generate reports. The artificial intelligence to be applied on this wealth of information will help us streamline our current operations, making them more efficient.