Economic View

On the business opportunities presented by sustainable waste management

In what ways can private partnerships and public participation support Abu Dhabi’s goal of 80% waste diversion by 2030, and what steps can enhance uptake of the so-called three Rs reduce, reuse, recycle across all sectors?

ALI AL DHAHERI: Private partnerships and public participation are crucial to realising Abu Dhabi’s goal of achieving 80% waste diversion by 2030. Collaborating with private entities allows us to mobilise additional resources, expertise and innovative solutions that can accelerate our progress.

We are committed to exploring partnerships that can contribute to these targets and are already exploring opportunities in advanced waste-management technologies and infrastructure, such as state-of-the-art facilities and waste-to-energy plants. These collaborations can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of waste-diversion efforts, ensuring a drive to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to waste management.

Public participation is also key to driving behavioural change and promoting the adoption of the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – across all sectors. Raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of waste reduction and proper waste disposal can significantly enhance the uptake of these principles.

Fostering partnerships with learning institutions, community organisations and NGOs can help develop educational programmes and awareness campaigns focused on segregating at source and the three Rs. Engaging citizens through public events, workshops and training materials can create a sense of ownership and responsibility towards waste reduction, leading to long-term behavioural change.

Where do you see opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in waste management?

AL DHAHERI: Abu Dhabi’s sustainable ambitions encompass more than renewable energy and infrastructure, presenting lucrative opportunities for SMEs in the waste-management industry. The emirate’s push towards advanced waste-treatment solutions and recycling initiatives opens investment possibilities, bolstered by various financial incentives and facilities. Our efforts to foster SME partnerships and collaborations in waste-management solutions reinforce these opportunities. SMEs specialising in waste-management technologies and practices can find significant potential in our commitment to sustainability and waste reduction.

How do waste-to-energy (WTE) and waste-to-sustainable aviation fuel (waste-to-SAF) technologies present innovative business opportunities in the waste-management industry?

AL DHAHERI: Both WTE and waste-to-SAF are emerging as transformative solutions in waste management. WTE technology, being more advanced, already plays a pivotal role in diverting waste from landfill and converting it into valuable energy sources, and we are pleased to be bringing a plant to Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, waste-to-SAF, although still nascent, is attracting interest from airlines and manufacturers due to its potential to reduce carbon emissions. Scalability and reliability remain challenges for these technologies, but they also present opportunities for investment in research and development to enhance their viability.

Collaboration with public entities, academia and other stakeholders is key to advancing WTE and waste-to-SAF technologies, as is the creation of a robust market. Companies can utilise their purchasing power to stimulate demand for sustainable energy sources, incentivising suppliers to boost their production. Furthermore, recent partnerships and signed memoranda of understanding indicate the industry’s openness to investors and partners, reinforcing the business opportunities these innovative technologies offer.

What efforts are being made to encourage private sector engagement in waste-management strategies and solutions?

AL DHAHERI: In January 2023 we signed more than Dh2bn ($544m) worth of contracts with specialised private entities to implement waste-management strategies and solutions. These agreements cover a range of services, including solid waste collection and transport, public cleaning services in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and pre-collection management in Abu Dhabi. As a member of the International Solid Waste Management Association, we remain up to date with the most recent developments, technologies and research in the waste-management industry. Collaborative efforts in these areas contribute to raising awareness on minimising waste disposal and treatment costs, as well as advancing waste-management practices more broadly.