When Waste is a Resource

photo of waste management plant under cloudy sky

photo of waste management plant under cloudy sky

Ankit Maheshwari, Associate Director, Synergy Consulting, Inc. shares insights:

Over 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated annually and combusted in waste-to-energy (WtE) facilities to produce electricity and recycle recovered metals. Europe is the most progressive with ~450 facilities generating ~6% of each countries’ electricity and ~13% of the domestic heat through waste incineration. Asia-Pacific follows with ~300 facilities, USA ~100, and the rest of the world ~30 facilities.

More specifically the Middle East (ME) generates 150 million tons or approximately 6% of global waste annually which is expected to triple by 2050. Regional governments across the ME have expedited investments in renewables and WtE, including sustainability, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices to be at the core of business strategies establishing a framework for growth. It is at the heart of this environment that waste management process must thrive starting with collection to final disposal. Public participation is of key importance early on to learn and establish green habits in the collection and sorting steps. These lifestyles will become process influencers in the later stages such as compost, landfill and ultimately WtE. This is critical as the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Waste Management Market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% to 2027.

Today ME Countries are operating with evolving waste management legislative frameworks and regulations, infrastructure roadblocks, insufficient funding, and a lack of disposal facilities. In an effort to counter these challenges, investments and initiatives are being promoted across the region to divert waste from landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce electricity. Featured activities include UAE’s first waste-to-hydrogen plant in Sharjah and the 5,000 MT/day Dubai’s Waste Management Center, world’s largest WtE project targeted to begin partial operations in 2023. New opportunities include Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Water and Electricity Company WtE plant request for proposal (RFP) with a 900K MT per annum capacity, and an upcoming tender for a WtE plant in Bahrain.

Waste to Energy is now an integral part of all Middle East business strategies while enabling the respective Countries to achieve their clean strategy goals, and the push to make it successful is evident with the robust risk allocation framework being proposed by the government entities, with the key responsibility of delivering the required waste quantity and quality (the right calorific value) covered under government’s scope, attracting private interest and investments. Waste management plants and processes provide a path for us to get value from waste, reduce expenses, save on disposal all while generating energy to produce electricity.