Frost & Sullivan on Waste Management in the GCC and MENA Regions

Interview on waste management in the GCC with Abhay Bhargava, Associate Director & Regional Head - Middle East, Energy & Environment Practice, Frost & Sullivan.

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Waste management landfill
Abhay Bhargava, Associate Director & Regional Head - Middle East, Energy & Environment Practice, Frost & Sullivan
Abhay Bhargava, Associate Director & Regional Head – Middle East, Energy & Environment Practice, Frost & Sullivan

What is waste management? How popular is it in the Middle East?

Every nation/ society generates some level of waste, which can broadly be categorized across 5 prominent types of waste:

1. Municipal Solid Waste: Includes Residential, Commercial, Retail, Hotel, etc. waste generated in a municipal or notified area either in solid or semi-solid form.

2. Construction and Demolition Waste: Includes wastes from building materials, debris,

and rubble resulting from construction, repair, re-modelling, and demolition activities.

3. Bio-medical Waste: Refers to waste produced from healthcare premises, such as hospitals, clinics, individual doctor offices, and laboratories (labs).

4. Industrial Hazardous Waste: Includes waste that poses substantial threats to public health or the environment such as toxic industrial wastes, oily waste, etc.

5. Electronic Waste: Refers to the waste generated by discarded electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops, computers, etc.

Waste management can be defined in a broad manner, to define activities carried out in a finite geography, by competent and authorized entities, to primarily minimize the very incidence of waste, and thereon, where waste is transpiring, to “manage” it, through pertinent activities revolving around reduction, recycling, treatment, recovery and disposal.

In the Middle East, Waste is a bigger problem than it is in the rest of the world, considering the fact that the average waste generated in the region (measured in terms of Kgs per person per day) is higher in most countries than the global average. The global average is estimated to be approximately 1.2 Kgs / person/ day. In the GCC, only Oman borders around the global average, while the other 5 GCC nations reflect a waste generation between 1.5 – 2.1 Kgs/ person/ day.

Given the higher than normal incidence of waste, and given the pressing needs in these countries to enhance sustainability, improve energy security, and improve resource utilization, waste management is becoming increasingly popular in the region.

What are the most popular waste management techniques? Could you describe their applications in the MENA region?

The most popular, and preferred “technique” to manage waste, is the factual minimization of waste, and reducing how much waste is truly generated in the first place. This is something that is however, the most difficult to attain, given that its success depends on achieving a change in social mindsets, best achieved through a long-term awareness program.

However, we see waste recycling also prove to be a very popular technique globally, given that this practice results in a “non-destructive” philosophy that satisfies the lobby for environment sustainability.

In the Middle East, the most popular practice for waste management was landfilling. However, now the region is witnessing a trend of avoiding landfilling, something that has been in vogue in other parts of the world. The region is now expected to see an increased focus on integrated waste management, with more emphasis on increased recovery from waste through waste to energy plants, and through an additional adjacent focus on recycling.

The global average of waste generated is estimated to be approximately 1.2 Kgs / person/ day. In the GCC, only Oman borders around the global average, while the other 5 GCC nations reflect a waste generation between 1.5 – 2.1 Kgs/ person/ day.

As municipalities in the GCC are not equipped to handle the existing level of waste generation, what alternate handling mechanisms could be set in motion to deal with the problem?

We can expect the GCC region to move increasingly towards generating energy from waste, and to avoid landfills, through the imposition of higher gate/ tipping fees, as a disincentive to landfill. The aim would be to first encourage waste streams to avoid landfills, and in the process, result in recovery/value, through the process of waste to energy.

This approach will primarily be driven by the need in the region to reduce the dependence of the energy mix on hydrocarbons, and to diversify the energy mix.

How can partnerships and acquisitions add value to the business of waste?

In the waste management industry, there are some distinct elements within the total value chain. These can be categorized as highlighted below:

1. Segregation at Source
2. Collection and Transportation
3. Landfilling
4. Segregation and Material Recovery
5. Treatment
6. Recycling

We also highlighted at the outset of this document, that there are many types of waste, and wastes like medical and hazardous require a different approach as compared to municipal solid wastes.

A majority of market participants only work within selective areas of the entire value chain, with technology and access to finance being key constraints that restrict diversification across the value chain. For example, there are very few cases in percentage terms, where a company involved in collection and transportation would move upwards and become a prime contractor for a proposed Waste-To-Energy plant, or an Integrated Waste Management solution.

At the same time, companies with expertise in technology and treatment would reflect a fairly high degree of dependence on the collection and transportation processes, as well as on recycling.

Considering this high degree of interlinkage between disparate elements of the value chain,
partnerships and acquisitions present an ideal solution to companies, to quickly ramp up capabilities and credibility, reducing their time to market, and time to gain expertise.

There is also an advantage that stems from global dynamics. The Middle East region is still lacking the maturity and experience that is seen in other parts of the world, with respect to waste management. Partnerships and acquisitions can allow the Middle East companies to gain exposure to the best-in-class practices existing globally, in a quicker and more effective manner.

Who are the key players in the MENA region to effectively manage waste? And what are their respective shares of the market?

We can provide names of some of the key players in the GCC region who are involved in the waste management industry – market shares cannot be currently provided:

1. UAE:

a. Imdaad
b. Dulsco
c. Bee’ah

2. KSA:

a. Al khodari Sons company
b. Al Fahhad & Sons
c. GEMS

3. Other countries:

a. DULSCO
b. QMSC
c. National cleaning company
d. Tanzifco
e. Al Naba services
f. Oman international group
g. Gulf city cleaning company
h. Sphinx services

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