Interview: Tariq Ali Al Amri
How can waste become economically productive?
TARIQ ALI AL AMRI: The global drive and increased demand for renewable energy paves the way for waste to be an economically efficient source of energy. Oman is no different: the government has put great emphasis on the use of renewable power in coming years. Therefore, we looked at some innovative options, and following the completion of feasibility studies, we could use wasteto-energy technology to run desalination plants. Should this concept come to fruition, we would be able to provide sufficient power to the proposed desalination plant and could meet up to 50% of domestic water needs.
We are also at an advanced stage in the feasibility study for a waste-to-steam option to service the oil and gas sector. Similarly, we are looking at supporting manufacturing companies with alternative fuels derived from waste that go through a mechanical biological treatment. Incorporating refuse-derived fuels into the energy mix will help reduce dependency on natural gas. This waste-based fuel would be much more environmentally friendly. We are assessing all options and we will move ahead with the ones that are both environmentally and economically viable.
What recycling programmes are being developed?
AL AMRI: We are looking at opening investment opportunities for different types of waste. We analysed the supply chain and decided to provide investment opportunities to small and medium-sized enterprises in each stream, giving them opportunities to provide collection and logistical solutions. Moving forward, we will have recycling facilities for different streams, and we are opening up investment opportunities for companies with experience in recycling. This will include recycling facilities for lead-acid batteries, construction and demolition waste, end-of-life tyres, and electronic waste. There will also be some sorting facilities located in different regions around the country. With regard to municipal waste generated from residential households, be’ah plans to introduce the two-bin system across Oman. Public attitudes towards recycling have been supportive, but the lack of knowledge about proper recycling practices and waste separation will be a challenge. It will require a cultural shift that can only be achieved through awareness campaigns in the short run and using the education system in the long run. Both of these approaches must focus on teaching future generations about being more receptive to adopting the desired behaviours. These are key factors to the success of all waste diversion initiatives.
What are some current strengths and weaknesses of domestic waste management? AL AMRI: For a new segment it is normal and expected that we face unique challenges. The main concern is that we need to ensure we have a proper legal framework in place. We are working with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs to put proper regulations and legislation in place. Despite the challenges, we have been successful and have achieved much in a short span of time. Oman is probably one of the leading countries in the region when it comes to waste management.
Health care waste (HCW) management is the first stream that has been fully developed commerically, providing HCW treatment using best practices and the highest standards. We are now treating up to 98% of the country’s generated HCW. Municipal waste management is well established and is developing further in terms of infrastructure and operations. Seven out of nine regional contracts were awarded for municipal waste management services. be’ah services will cover the entire sultanate by 2019 using the most optimal equipment and practices at our disposal.
Meanwhile, efforts to manage hazardous waste are ongoing. Temporary storage facilities and specially engineered landfills dedicated for this kind of waste are ready for use. In the near future, we will be setting up a fully integrated hazardous waste treatment facility.