UAE, along with its neighbouring states, have for long been regarded as some of the world’s largest producers of waste per capita, with a daily generation which tallies to over 2.5kg waste per person per day. To tackle this issue, Bee’ah, a fully integrated environmental and waste management company was established in 2007, under a public-private partnership with the Sharjah Municipality.
The achievements of the company have been remarkable, from setting up pedestrian recycling bins, in-office recycling programs, its Tandeef division for waste collection services, to efficient landfill management and operation of recycling facilities that process construction and demolition waste, used car tyres, discarded cars and light metals, organic waste, and recovering municipal solid waste; Bee’ah has proved that it means serious business as it has collected and treated more than 2.1 million tonnes of waste in 2014.
As a result, and due to Bee’ah’s strategic objectives and its relentless focus on implementing effective waste management procedures, the company achieved more than 67 per cent of diversion from landfill – the highest diversion rate achieved by any city in the Middle East in 2014, setting Sharjah and the UAE apart in the area of sophisticated waste management, diverting it from landfills towards alternative sustainable sources.
“So far, Bee’ah has commissioned more than 9000 recycling touchpoints and launched the region’s first residential recycling program. It operates the Middle East’s largest and world’s third largest material recovery facility; and currently, Bee’ah is en-route to zero waste to landfill in Sharjah,” explains Fahad Ali Shehail, Chief Operating Officer, Bee’ah.
The UAE is at the forefront of sustainable development, waste management solutions and recycling efforts in the region, and Sharjah is leading the way. The hands of government and non-government agencies engaged in this task are active, thanks to the growing needs of a rapidly growing population, industrialization and construction activities in the country.
Bee’ah has implemented a comprehensive strategy designed to divert waste away from landfill disposal and maximize resource recovery in Sharjah. After all, achieving zero waste to landfill would catapult the emirate into the environmental capital of the Middle East and make it the first Arab city ever to divert 100 per cent of its waste from landfill. In order to meet this target, Bee’ah sought out to evoke, transform and redirect environmental thoughts, attitudes and behaviours in individuals across communities and businesses. In recent years, Bee’ah has inaugurated a portfolio of waste management services – comprising waste collection, waste transfer, waste treatment, medical waste treatment, waste recycling and energy recovery – across Sharjah’s residential and industrial sectors. Since its inception, Bee’ah’s landfill diversion rates have been on the rise year after year, reaching its peak of over 67 per cent in 2014.
Bee’ah works to drive sustainable growth by providing the infrastructure needed to spearhead environmental change. To achieve zero waste to landfill, Bee’ah launched a plethora of specialized divisions and subsidiaries. These include ‘Tandeef’, Bee’ah’s waste collection and street cleaning division; the ‘Waste Management Centre’ in Sharjah, the region’s largest collection of waste segregation and processing facilities; and, ‘Wekaya’, the medical waste management division, for the safe and compliant collection, treatment and disposal of medical waste produced by healthcare establishments in Sharjah. Bee’ah’s extensive roster of pioneering facilities features a Tyre Recycling Facility, a Material Recovery Facility, a Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Facility, Liquid Waste and Oil Treatment Facility, an Organic Composting Plant, a Medical and Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility, End-of-life vehicles and Metal Shredding & Recycling Facility and a Waste-to-Energy Facility. Bee’ah also spreads the message of sustainability through awareness campaigns, training sessions, recycling activities and education initiatives. In the past seven years Bee’ah’s path towards achieving zero waste to landfill has been punctuated by milestones. For example, in 2010, Bee’ah inaugurated the Bee’ah School of Environment (BSOE) with the support of the Sharjah Education Zone (SEZ) and other corporate partners. The first of its kind in the region, the BSOE aims to educate students and change their outlooks towards the future, environmental issues, natural resource management and pollution prevention.
Through the BSOE, Bee’ah has provided educational services to over 164,000 students across over 210 schools. In line with its sustainability plan, Bee’ah also diverted over 60 per cent of waste from landfills in Sharjah in 2013 and has further enhanced the rate to exceed 67 per cent in 2014. That same year, over 2.1 million tonnes of waste was managed by Bee’ah. In addition, since 2007, thanks to Bee’ah’s operations, over 15,000 desk side blue bins have been distributed across Sharjah and the domestic recycling levels in the emirate have increased compared to the years before. “All of Bee’ah’s waste management plants and community engagement initiatives – such as the myBee’ah Loyalty program, the Bee’ah School of Environment, Inter-School Recycling competitions, the Gulf Ecosystem Research Centre, Clean-Up Campaigns and recycling programs – are designed to help address future energy challenges in the emirate of Sharjah. These initiatives also support Bee’ah’s goal to serve as a powerful instigator of environmental change,” says Fahad Ali Shehail.
Safe collection and disposal of waste
With a commitment to reach zerowaste to landfill by 2015 for Sharjah, Bee’ah has set in place various facilities and initiatives, by implementing a holistic economic, industrial and social framework which promotes the 4 R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover. Bee’ah endeavours to turn material and physical waste into recycled resources that can be re-used by the community, leading the way at the forefront of positive environmental change in the Middle East. With a high-tech fleet, Tandeef, Bee’ah’s waste collection, street and pavements cleaning division, plays a vital role in helping Bee’ah become the leading environmental management company in the region by providing coherent and sustainable environmental solutions to meet the challenges of the community it serves. Bee’ah set up the Waste Management Centre in Al Saj’ah, which represents an entirely new approach to managing waste in our region with a number of industrial, commercial and residential waste diversion operations and facilities. Here, collected waste is sorted and sent to the different state-of-theart facilities managed and operated by Bee’ah along high international standards.
These include the Construction & Demolition Waste Recycling Facility; the Tyre Recycling Facility (the first of its kind in the region using environmentally cryogenic processes); the Material Recovery Facility (the largest in the region and third largest in the world); the Compost Plant; industrial and wastewater lagoons; Wekaya, the medical waste storage and treatment facility; the metal shredding facility; and the landfill (one of the largest in the world, and one of the only landfills reengineered using enhanced safety practices).
Challenges in waste management
Increasing populations bring with it a growing amount of waste per year. Hence, managing waste comes with its own set of challenges. When asked, Fahad Ali Shehail, says that there is a need for legislations and laws with the Municipality to support environmental efforts. He also points out that there is a lack of awareness on the importance of recycling and its drastic effects on the daily lives of community members. Apart from there being a need for tackling scavenging, the biggest costs are the investments in the infrastructure – the waste management facilities, waste collection vehicles, labour – Bee’ah is the only company in the region managing the entire waste process from start to finish.
Bee’ah has launched the region’s first city-wide residential recycling programme across the city of Sharjah. The residential recycling programme is complemented with awareness and educational programs to encourage the public to practice recycling and waste segregation. “The awareness levels in Sharjah have improved significantly since the introduction of extensive awareness campaigns, targeting the general public, communities and society at large. Without increased awareness, we would not have achieved 67 per cent diversion rate, the highest in the Middle East,” says Fahad Ali Shehail. In specific, the residential recycling programme alone which targets residential sectors in Sharjah has adopted door-to-door awareness training to ensure that residents in Sharjah are fully equipped with the knowledge and tools to begin recycling at home. Internationally, this type of recycling programme has worked tremendously well, resulting in more recyclables taken out of the general waste stream and the quantity of recyclables increases while residual waste decreases.
In addition to this huge effort, Bee’ah has also developed and implemented a bilingual environmental education programme focused on school pupils to begin educating individuals about waste management and environmental protection from a very young age. “Bee’ah always strives to be a leader within the industry, and thus, it will continue to enhance its awareness and education efforts until everyone within the Emirate begins to recycle and recycling rates reach 100 per cent,” he says and goes on to add, “We are on target towards our goal and His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah, as well as the government of Sharjah have been very supportive to make our program a success.”
Safe waste management
Bee’ah is currently working on the treatment of all the waste collected through Bee’ah’s recycling facilities, to turn it into reusable material and put it back to use. These treatment initiatives will include waste to energy technology, organic composting, wood recycling and further initiatives for the treatment of other types of waste streams. “We are also looking at expanding our geographical reach, going beyond the borders of Sharjah, into other regions of the UAE (Ajman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and the GCC where Bee’ah is in discussions with key entities in Saudi Arabia, particularly with Jeddah and Riyadh, to lead environmental change in the Kingdom and eventually across the Middle East in the years to come,” explains Fahad Ali Shehail.
Zero-waste to landfill
Bee’ah has not only set a goal for Sharjah to become the first city in the region to reach zero-waste to landfill, but has also become a shining example for leading environmental change in the UAE and Middle East. Bee’ah mapped a strategy for growing beyond waste services and adopting a more holistic approach to environmental management such as Air Quality Monitoring and Water pollution. Due to Bee’ah’s strategic objectives and its relentless focus on implementing effective waste management procedures, the company achieved more than 67 per cent of diversion from landfill – the highest diversion rate achieved by any waste management company in the Middle East in 2014, setting Sharjah and the UAE apart in the area of sophisticated waste management, diverting it from landfills towards alternative sustainable sources.
New headquarter: An icon of sustainability
Recently, Bee’ah has launched its new headquarters building which is a futuristic, unique landmark of its kind which reflects Bee’ah’s vision to become the leading environmental partner of choice in the Middle East. Designed by one of the world’s leading architects, Zaha Hadid, the design of the building is achieved through the shape of sand dunes patterns formed by the wind forming an iconic building with an innovative design. The eco-effective Bee’ah headquarters will encounter Bee’ah’s objectives introducing facilities such as the parking, amphitheatre and solar PV dunes. Moreover, a Central oasis will be located in the heart of the building which will include shaded courtyards. Through the natural ventilation which they produce, the shaded courtyards will also create a dynamic atmosphere where staff and visitors can interact.
Renewable energy: Waste-to-Energy facility. Soon to be the largest of its kind in the world
Bee’ah’s strategic plan focuses on averting waste from landfill and increasing the diversion rates to reach 100 per cent, and will do so in three phases starting in 2014:
1. Enhance the current operations and technical capabilities of current facilities.
2. Set up additional recycling facilities to increase recovery from current levels to 70%
3. Set up and implement the Waste to Energy program (WTE), making diversion 100%.
Bee’ah’s Waste-to-Energy plant is expected to handle over 400,000 tons of waste annually of non-recyclable, hazardous and medical waste. The plant will be the largest of its kind in the world and will be in operation by 2015 generating electricity that will be fed into the national grid with zeroemissions into the atmosphere.
New environmental services: Air quality monitoring
Bee’ah is also embarking on an Air Quality Monitoring project, as part of Bee’ah’s strategy for growing beyond waste services and adopting a more holistic approach to environmental management, whereby air quality levels throughout Sharjah will be monitored and measured. The data aims to shed light on the issues of air quality and its impact on the environment of Sharjah, setting a goal to make Sharjah the leading environmental city in the region. The project will help develop a network for monitoring atmospheric and air pollution in the Emirate of Sharjah. Furthermore, Sharjah does not yet have an AAQM network, and given that Sharjah is the industrial heartland of the UAE, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the country’s industrial GDP, therefore, an AAQM and meteorological data collection is crucial to determine the extent of air pollution in the Emirate of Sharjah and take necessary action to develop new laws, air quality standards and mitigate the pollution level.