Tuesday, June 10, 2014
By A Business Reporter — MUSCAT — Civic authorities across the region must rethink waste streams and begin circling materials back into the economy instead of sending them to the landfill or incinerating them. This was the message to clean technology stakeholders and supporters at the Clean Tech Oman International Forum & Awards yesterday, which focused on ways to adapt clean technology with minimal effects on the environment. Jeroen Vincent, Chief Operating Officer over the GCC region for Averda, a provider of waste management solutions, highlighted the need for cities to drastically reduce their waste streams in the short-term, while investing in long term clean technology options. This will require a drastic shift away from our current linear model of waste disposal, where we make, use, and then dispose.
“Urban centres across the developing world will continue to see a dramatic population increase over the coming years,” said Vincent. “Municipal governments generally spend between 20 and 50 per cent of their annual budgets on solid waste management, according to research done by the World Bank last year. Around 60 per cent of solid waste in any given city, for instance, is food, which is full of valuable nutrients for the region’s soil. We need to rethink this model, and build a smarter system rooted in clean technology in our cities.” This concept, termed circular economy, has the potential to collectively save the global economy up to $1 trillion. In a circular economy, there are two types of material flows — biological and technical. Biological materials are non-toxic, organic matter that can be decomposed and recycled as a fertiliser. Technical matter — products made with polymers, alloys and other man-made materials — are designed for re-use and enjoy multiple lifecycles without waste.
“As we search for clean technology solutions, this concept is full of potential,” Vincent added, “The long-term objective of a circular framework is to prevent waste, but reaching that goal will take a considerable and prolonged investment by all stakeholders involved. In the meantime, our tangible goals should be to reduce avoidable waste, and identify ways to use waste that benefits our economy, without negatively impacting our environment.” The first step for many cities in the region, according to Vincent, is to separate the volume of food waste that they collect. Next, it is essential for municipal governments to implement schemes to incentivise businesses to recycle their food waste and turn into fertiliser and renewable energy.
“There are profound benefits to incentivising stakeholders,” Vincent concluded. “As we discuss those benefits like generating clean electricity in Muscat today, we are reminded that waste could also kick-start new industries. For example, by turning waste into fertilisers, we can encourage farming in a region where the soil lacks the nutrients and the ability to retain water. By producing organic fertiliser, we can avoid importing synthetic fertilisers, while reducing the cost of farming, and foster a new, sustainable industry in Oman and the entire Middle East.”
Monday 09th, June 2014 / 18:33 Written by