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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gulf countries generate 22.2 million tons of solid waste in 2009



Dubai, today, creates more than 10,000 tonnes of general waste a day. MEWS 2010 has been organised to call for alternative methods to deal with the region's growing waste menace. Debris from construction and demolition accounts for three quarters of the total waste generated in the UAE.


BY PMA RASHEED
19 May 2010, The Gulf Today

MUNICIPAL solid waste generated in the Gulf countries during the year 2009 has been estimated at a massive amount of over 22.2 million tonnes. This was revealed at the second edition of the Middle East Waste Summit (MEWS 2010) opened in Dubai on Tuesday.
The three-day international environment conference, which runs until May 20 at the Palladium in Dubai Media City under the patronage of Dubai Municipality (DM), has called for alternative methods to deal with the region's growing waste menace.
Addressing the MEWS 2010 opening session, Salah Abdulrahman Al Amiri, assistant director general of environment and public health services sector at the DM, said that the waste treatment and disposal methods by experimenting alternative methods and utilising international expertise will bring mutual scientific and financial benefits.
"About 4.6 million tonnes of industrial solid waste has also been produced during the past year by the GCC countries. Today, many GCC countries rank higher than developed countries in terms of per capita waste generation," he added.
Viable solutions for the waste management issues of the Gulf and other Middle Eastern territories are being discussed at the MEWS 2010, with an exhibition of waste management products also being conducted. Over 200 industry leaders are participating in the event.
"Rapid urbanisation, high population growth rates, diversified cultures, floating populations and high consumption have brought about significant waste management challenges in the GCC region, where the countries now collectively produce more than 120 million tonnes of waste per year," said Al Amiri.
According to him, Dubai also faces challenges, like other modern cities, in environmental protection due to the increasing quantities of waste produced in the emirate as a result of rapid urban developments and increased industrial activities during the past decade. Dubai, today, creates more than 10,000 tonnes of general waste a day, one of the highest quantities in the region.
"The efforts should be continued effectively towards creating a healthy, clean and sustainable environment for the future generations, through appropriate solutions through the use of best practices and latest technologies in waste management," he noted.
"Recycling becomes an increasingly important waste management option, as it can make good environmental and economic sense given the right conditions. Conservation of natural resources, saving of energy in production and transport, reduction of risks of pollution and production of less expensive goods are also the advantages of recycling," explained Al Amiri.
"But there are other options like land filling and incineration which must and will be studied in the realm of applying the best and most optimum solution suitable to our country, and here again stems the need to look for the most experienced companies, especially those which reward us as a governmental department," he pointed out.
The individual waste production rate in the UAE is among the high international rates, according to Obaid Bin Essa Ahmed, executive director of the municipalities coordination office and in-charge of environment affairs at the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW).
Addressing the inaugural session, entitled 'Global climate change and the waste industry,' he said, "Debris from construction and demolition [accounts for] three quarters of the total waste generated in the UAE. The incessant increase in the waste generation raises anxieties over the safe disposal of the waste to ward off the risks for the environment and dangers for the public health."
"Major government initiatives, like the National Centre for Cleaner Production, and plans to rehabilitate the nation's landfills affecting the UAE's waste management efforts are on the anvil," he noted.
"Federal and local standards for organised waste management operations in the UAE have also been included in the future plan of the environment ministry, which focuses on effective management of hazardous waste with the best available techniques," Ahmed said.
"Waste management is a political will, which is missing now, often forced by disasters like Italy's Seveso in 1976 and Naples in 2008 and India's Bhopal in 1984," said Dr Andreas Monnig, CEO of the German Association for Waste Management, in his presentation titled "The Future is Product Responsibility and Resource Preservation".
"It's not only an organisational and technical challenge. The conditions to be precedent are the political will, law and regulations and acceptance of the public," he added.
"Two billion tonnes of rubbish, including hazardous waste, are generated by European countries per year. Each country has to recycle more than 55 per cent of their municipal waste to reduce the contribution to climate change. Unfortunately, less than 10 per cent is only recycled, and the rest goes to landfills," explained Monnig.
Fareed Bushehri, regional DTIE officer of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), remarked in his speech that another planet is needed to store our waste, if we continue to produce the waste.
"Majority of municipal wastes are organic, which should be addressed by integrated solid waste management solutions with strategic approach to sustainable control of solid waste. Plans and monitory actions should be developed by authorities to implement integrated solid waste management," he added.
Chris Fountain, managing director of Turret Middle East, a partner of the MEWS 2010, said that waste management has become a priority concern among Middle Eastern societies.
"The issue of uncontrolled waste affects the entire Arab community and so we need to engage in continuous and comprehensive dialogue to come up with unified strategies for addressing this growing threat," he added.
Dubai Municipality organised the Middle East Waste Summit 2010, in association with Turret-Middle East.
The MEWS 2010 discusses strategies for waste avoidance and resource management; policy, regulation and enforcement issues; waste to energy; municipal waste and recycling; construction and industrial waste management, and waste procurement.
Round tables on topics ranging from waste oil and medical waste treatment to electronic waste solutions and composting were also conducted on the sidelines of the MEWS 2010.
Hassan Makki, director of waste management department at the DM, said that the number of participants in the 2009 edition of the MEWS was 2,691 from more than 53 countries.
"Meanwhile the number of visitors to the exhibition was 1,759, who carried their ideas to Dubai and presented projects as solutions to the problem of growing quantities of waste. [They also] discussed the best ways to get rid of them to ensure healthy and safe environment for the emirate's community," he added.
According to him, Dubai Municipality developed the MEWS as a platform for governments and businesses in the region to discuss the growing threat posed by improperly managed waste. 

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