By Talah AlTamimi
A study published by MOMRA (Ministry Of Municipal & Rural Affairs) in 2009 indicates “Saudi Arabia produces 12 million tons of garbage per year, with each Saudi producing an average of 1.4 kilograms of waste per day” and this number is likely to be much higher by now.
In the boom that Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing in all sectors, it is essential to raise awareness on the importance of recycling.
The Current State
In Riyadh, the waste management system is unique. While the Eastern Province and Jeddah enjoy the benefit of publicly available separation bins for recycling, this is not the case in Riyadh. Omar Midani, CEO of Beatona, an Environmental Solutions and Waste Management Project Development and Investment Company, explains that the bins in Jeddah and Dammam are part of a pilot project for segregation at source, but the difference in Riyadh is that “ a large chunk of the household waste that is generated goes through a material recovery facility or a sorting facility, prior to reaching a landfill. At the sorting facility, all the recyclable items are recovered: paper, cardboard, metal and plastics in all shapes and forms.”
One Of The Largest In The World
Mr. Midani also adds that next to the landfill in the south of Riyadh, there is a sorting facility that is one of the largest in the world with a capacity to sort 4000 tons per day to recover the recyclable material. Unfortunately a lot of people are not aware of this. Therefore, on the government level, there is active involvement to ensure that the municipalities are disposing of the waste properly.
Where To Recycle
For the private sector, there are ample recycling companies to choose from in Riyadh. They offer their services to schools, offices, and government entities, where a large amount of paper, plastic and solid waste is being disposed of. However, none of these companies offers a home pick-up service for recyclable material. Those companies explained that the amount collected from individual households is too small, but they are willing to take the waste material if it is dropped off at one of their collection facilities.
Another solution could be to create neighborhood campaigns where the neighborhood as a whole collects recyclable waste in bins and agrees with one of the recycling companies to pick up their material once a month to ensure a large amount of recyclable waste is available.
The weakness of the recycling effort in Riyadh is in communicating with the individual and getting him or her involved. Some people however, decided to initiate dialogue and take a stand by starting recycling projects. Ms. Noura Nasser, a student at King Saud University, along with her team will hand out pamphlets to raise awareness about recycling and eventually roll out a whole recycling initiative within the university. The pamphlets were developed with the help of Saudi Arabian Plastic Recycling Company (SAPRC) based in Jeddah.
Mohammed Al Saadoun, a graduate from Al Yamamah University, started ASH IT in 2008, a recycling business of transforming waste into customized handmade goods. He collected aluminum cans from his university’s cafeteria and turned them into ashtrays, coasters, lighter holders, and penholders. He also turned old abayas into laptop cases and used old CDs and cassettes in designing furniture pieces. After a two-year hiatus, Mohammed is hoping to be up and running again in the summer of 2013, and he is currently developing prototypes for new products using glass, plastics, and fabric.
To strengthen the recycling concept in Riyadh, more education and awareness campaigns need to take place. People need to get involved and feel like they are making a difference in protecting their environment. Each school should have recycling ambassadors, and incentives should be created for recycling. People also need to understand how waste is currently being disposed of. The private and government sectors along with the citizens should work together to solve the waste problem.
Recycling and Waste Management Companies In Riyadh:
The Saudi Recycling Company For Paper Waste
Refal Environmental Services Limited
Averda Saudi International
MEEP- Middle East Environment Protection Company