Driven by the core mission of achieving zero-waste to landfill in Sharjah, Bee’ah established a robust waste management plan unlike any other, through its Waste Collection and Public Cleansing division, Tandeef. Bee'ah's Group CEO, HE Khaled Al Huraimel, and Rafael Sanjurjo Lopez, Managing Director of Tandeef tells us how this division has grown over the years.
An average person in the UAE generates two kilograms of trash every single day. Ever wondered what happens to all the waste after it is discarded?
‘FM today’ takes a closer look at Bee'ah, the fully integrated environmental and waste management company in the UAE. A public-private partnership, Bee'ah is responsible for collecting waste from over 2 million residents across the UAE.. The company's waste collection and Public Cleansing division, Tandeef, employs more than 5,000 people and operates an advanced fleet of over 1,000 vehicles to accomplish this astonishing feat. Its innovative approach to the management of waste has helped to achieve a remarkable diversion rate of 76 percent from the landfills in Sharjah, the highest in the UAE. “Tandeef's distinctive approach to sustainable waste management means to provide integrated services while including the development of a sustainability roadmap to help clients manage their operations.
We have executed solutions for some of the most significant corporate and municipal entities in the region; for projects that are set to have a transformative impact on the waste management industry in the UAE and beyond,” says HE Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO, Bee’ah.
Growth over years
At its inception, Bee’ah was a Sharjah-based company with 60 employees, offering only three-stream bins. Now, with the support of Tandeef, Bee’ah is a regional leader in waste management, with a workforce of close to 7000, setting unprecedented diversion rates. Currently, the company's fleet includes waste collection trucks, road sweepers, bin washers, beach cleaners, street pressure washers, etc. “In 2012, with the support of the government, Tandeef introduced twostream waste collection and a new tipping fee structure to incentivise waste reduction and to closely regulate landfill contents. These regulations have been instrumental in helping Bee’ah to achieve unprecedented diversion rates" adds Al Huraimel.
Bee'ah holds contracts with regional and international entities including the Burj Khalifa, DWTC, Emaar, TECOM and Dubai Marina. A number of waste recycling facilities have¬ been established within Bee'ah's Waste Management Centre to recover and recycle various materials like paper, cardboard, plastics, metals and aluminum, and organic waste; with specialised facilities for other types of waste to follow soon.
Rafael Sanjurjo Lopez, Managing Director of Tandeef points out that we can see Tandeef’s growth through its various contracts:
Municipal Collection Contracts: Establishing comprehensive waste management strategies. Tandeef is responsible for the collection and cleansing of municipal waste across several regions of the UAE. In addition to being the sole provider of municipal services in Sharjah city, Tandeef also holds contracts for the regions of Dibba Al Hisn, Mleiha, Kalba, Al Madam, Hamriya, Khorfakkan and Al Batayeh. Marking a momentous occasion for the company, Tandeef started providing municipal services in Abu Dhabi Island from 2017, through a partnership with Tadweer, the Centre of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi. The division provides street sweeping, cleaning, waste management and collection, and beautification services for pavements and public areas, as well as a state-of-the-art collection service for the safe and responsible disposal of waste.
Commercial Collection Contracts: Tandeef also meets the waste collection needs of a number of renowned establishments across Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. The company has more than 2000 active contracts in more than 200 locations. Combining the skills of a specialised team, with global experiences & local knowledge, the division handles the needs of public and private organisations of all sizes and sectors, through a personalised, efficient and environmentallysound disposal mechanism. In Dubai, Tandeef holds the commercial contracts for notable establishments like City Walk, Dubai World Trade Centre, Burj Khalifa, TECOM, Damac Properties, Marina Mall and DU Telecom, among others. In addition to managing their waste, Bee’ah is helping these entities on their journey towards sustainability, through on-demand training on recycling and on reducing their overall carbon footprint.
Community: Tandeef collects and manages more than 3 million tonnes of waste every year, and serves the needs of around 2 million residents. Tandeef’s specialised services in areas like integrated waste management, document destruction, and innovation through offerings like Wi-Fi bins and Reverse Vending Machines have resonated with customers, for their ease of use and efficiency.
The use of modern IoT technology has always helped optimize the cleaning-up process. Bee’ah uses a range of ‘Smart’ innovations. The organisation has long recognized the benefits of an eco-fleet and Tandeef has made a growing investment towards electric vehicles since 2015. Prior to this, the division also invested in CNG-powered vehicles and low sulphur diesel to reduce the emissions created as a result of its operations. “In the UAE’s waste management sector, Bee’ah is the first to use electric vehicles. Through its ecofleet, Tandeef is able to optimise energy consumption and manage the increase in tonnage efficiently,” says Al Huraimel.
Tandeef has also obtained combiwash vehicles, featuring completely hygienic technology, that allows for collection and cleaning of the bins at the same time, which in turn saves time, effort, resources, and manpower. “We were the first to introduce fully electric desert cleaning vehicles (Polaris Rangers) for the cleaning and conservation of desert areas. All the vehicles in our fleet are compliant with the latest Euro 6 emissions standards,” adds Lopez.
Tandeef has also introduced innovative, solar-powered, smart bins, which act as Wi-Fi hotspots. The double-streamed bins can collect five times more waste and are equipped with sensors which communicate with Tandeef’s control room, allowing for disposal in an efficient and eco-friendly way. Reconciling sustainability with operational efficiency, the company operates using a fleet management system that features advanced technology like automated route optimization. A GPS-mapped system that tracks the fill rate (level of waste) of Tandeef’s RFID-tagged bins, this feature uses real-time information to dispatch vehicles according to demand, based on a heat waste map, through the most optimised routes. Some other key features of this system include waste vehicle setup, bin asset management, fleet monitoring and incident management, driver behavior management, performance monitoring, and call & dispatch centers.
They have also introduced many new digital portals and innovative solutions to help them achieve their mission. In 2016, Bee’ah launched a new mobile app that offers easy access to several of Tandeef’s services such as raising complaints or queries, and booking slots for specialized collection through the You Call, We Haul service. The app also offers refined services for commercial waste collection, as well as options for confidential document destruction, environmental consulting services. The ‘You Call, We Haul Service’, is a unique service which Tandeef offers to the community, relieving them of the burden of disposing of bulky waste like furniture. Here, residents in Sharjah can contact Tandeef’s call centre and ask for their waste to be picked up at specific collection points, absolutely free of charge. The company has also invested in unique Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs). These form part of Bee'ah's unique CSR programme, Bee’ah Rewards, providing an automated recovery system for used plastic bottles and aluminium cans. They feature an automatic waste compacting system, which separates and reduces up to 90% of the initial volume collected. Each time a recyclable is deposited, the RVM issues a receipt with a unique barcode, which the user scans through the Bee'ah mobile application, qualifying them to enter a monthly draw and win exciting prizes.
“As a preferred waste management partner in the UAE, it is important for us to streamline our operations for maximum efficiency. Technology has played an important role in achieving this objective,” explains Al Huraimel. He points out that Tandeef introduced the route optimization in 2012. By 2014, the company had reduced truck movements by 20% when compared to 2013, and by 90% when compared to 2010.
“With the introduction of our new digital solutions, these numbers have grown exponentially. This has significantly maximised collection efficiency and reduced fuel usage, as well as pollution due to vehicle emissions. We have recently upgraded our fleet management system which has led to effective communication and faster responses to serve clients and address incidents. Thanks to technology, we have better control over our assets and how we manage waste. We now have an understanding of exactly what types and amount of waste are produced in different areas, allowing us to distribute bins and schedule pickups accordingly. This makes the disposal of waste more effective, and easier for us and for the clients we serve,” adds Lopez.
Challenges are a part and parcel of any initiation. And some of the challenges faced by Bee’ah include high waste generation rates. The average person in the UAE generates around 2 kgs of waste a day. “Given the rising multicultural population, rapid economic growth, urbanization, and changes in consumption patterns, these numbers are only expected to rise. Sectors like tourism and hospitality are also generating a lot of waste, particularly food waste,” explains Lopez.
Lack of awareness & recycling habits is another key challenge they face. Most citizens do not segregate their waste or recycle, and this makes recovery of resources difficult. Lopez says that over the years they have become used to a throwaway culture, where people use and discard resources easily. “This results in larger amounts of waste being diverted to landfill. People need to become more accountable for the waste they generate and should be given more information and opportunities to contribute to sustainable practices,” adds Lopez.
Al Huraimel points out that there is also the challenge of insufficient public and private collaborations in building a national framework for waste management. “Though the UAE is taking significant measures to build a green future, we can support the creation of more legislative measures for the setting up of a greater number of advanced recycling facilities, in addition to subsidizing waste-toenergy projects. Partnership models such as Bee’ah’s PPP model can help implement integrated waste management strategies in alignment with the waste diversion goals of Vision 2021,” says Al Huraimel.
A key aspect of achieving their mission of a cleaner and greener tomorrow is training their staff and also the public & clients. Tandeef’s drivers are trained in internationally accredited programmes at the Institute of Environmental Management and Sustainability – Middle East (IEMS – ME). The training follows strict quality standards that are associated with the accredited programme. Once it is concluded, each driver is assessed on their ability, competence, and potential training needs using an online licensed app called Validate. The IEMS also issues a 'Driver’s Passport', which has important details about the driver, including the extent of their training progress and which vehicles they are qualified to operate. “At least 300 drivers now hold certificates accredited by WAMITAB (Waste Management
Industry Training Advisory Board) and the IMI (Institute of Motor Industry). All labourers undergo training on SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and Health, Safety and Security; as well as attend mandatory Toolbox Talks. Training is held periodically based on a preplanned annual training calendar,” explains Lopez.
To ensure that the waste collected by Tandeef can be recovered or put to use in processes like wasteto- energy, it is important for them to advise waste generators on how to segregate the waste at the source. “We have organised residential recycling programmes and distributed green and blue bins, dedicated to general and recyclable waste, to encourage the separation of waste streams by the public. Tandeef has distributed around 50,000 bins across the UAE, helping residents and establishments to separate their waste streams, thus making it easier to start the process of diversion from the very first step. We also distribute awareness kits in different languages to housekeepers and cleaning staff at homes. Bee’ah School of Environment (BSOE), Bee’ah’s environmental education arm, has been able to engage over 200,000 students and 5000 teachers in Sharjah alone, encouraging ecycling habits and environmental consciousness from a young age. We also conduct awareness training for the employees of our commercial clients to ensure that all their waste is properly segregated. Internally, all Bee’ah employees are also supplied with blue bins to encourage them to recycle the waste they generate at the office. These practices ensure that only a minimum of waste collected is disposed of in landfills,” says Al Huraimel.
What the future holds
Since its inception, Bee’ah has already tripled diversion rates, meeting one of the company’s primary goals. They collect and process over 3 million tonnes of waste every year. “Our holistic approach to sustainable waste management has increased diversion rates in Sharjah from 20% to an astounding 76%. With the completion of its new waste-to-energy facility, Bee’ah will achieve the complete diversion of waste in Sharjah by 2020. This will help Sharjah to adhere to the targets set in National Agenda 2021 for management of waste,” says Al Huraimel.
As for the future, Al Huraimel shares that they have started working on digitalisation of their fleets & operations. They are working with SAP and Bee’ah’s Digital team to further enhance their operations through new portals. They have also introduced new features like real-time monitoring of the waste movement, a comprehensive waste management dashboard for administrators, and a new advanced system to measure the quality levels of commercial compactors.
The Tesla Semi Truck is another key part of their future plans. In association with its participation at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2018, Bee’ah made the momentous announcement that the company has become the first in the region to make an order for the Tesla Semi.
“As one of the most innovative and eco-friendly companies in the world, Tesla’s vision for the world closely aligns with our vision for the UAE. The unique features of the Semi make it the perfect addition to our fleet; and as Bee’ah expands to meet its wider ambition to improve the quality of life in the Middle East, this new acquisition will enable us to meet our goals, while remaining committed to our sustainability mandate. Our order for the trucks is one of the largest in the Middle East. However, as we continue to implement vehicular green technology across our fleet, we will continue to sustain this momentum and this order constitutes the preliminary phase in our wide-scale plan for optimising the operations of our fleet,” says Al Huraimel.
And now, Tandeef also plans to expand to other Emirates and go beyond the UAE. “From its beginnings in Sharjah, Tandeef has grown to become a regional leader in waste management. The incredible success that we have garnered over the years has also fostered ambitions of geographic growth and expansion. Tandeef is now consulting for cities and municipalities, from across the MENA region, and hopes to replicate its model of success in countries like Oman and the KSA, which already has a regional office in place,” concludes Al Huraimel.