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Mon 22 Oct 2018 11:30 AM

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Gulf produces nearly twice as much waste per person as Western countries

The Middle East manager for renewable energy firm Acciona said that an overreliance on bottled water is a significant contributor to overall levels of waste

Gulf produces nearly twice as much waste per person as Western countries
The most significant reason for the Gulf’s high waste level is a heavy reliance on bottled water.

Arabian Gulf urban residents produce nearly twice the amount of waste as their counterparts in the West, according to Jesus Sancho, the Middle East manager for Acciona, a company that specialises in developing and managing environmentally-friendly infrastructure and renewable energy. 

“In urban environments around the world, especially in Western and European cities, the average is around 1.2 kilos of waste per person per day,” Sancho told Arabian Business in a recent interview.

“In this part of the world, we’re closer to two kilos per person per day.” 

Sancho said there are a number of reasons that the countries of the Gulf produce higher than average amounts of waste. 

“One reason is because of the huge amount of cultures and nationalities that live peacefully here,” he said.

“With this multicultural diversity, what it takes to educate such a huge range of cultures [about environmental and waste management issues] creates some difficulties.” 

Additionally, Sancho said “huge amounts” of organic waste produced during Ramadan and Eid cause overall waste levels to spike. 

Perhaps the most significant reason for the Gulf’s high waste levels, Sancho added, is a heavy reliance on bottled water. 

“DEWA is doing a great job meeting WHO [World Health Organisation] standards for water purity. You can drink water in Dubai and there is no issue, but people are used to drinking bottled water,” he said.

“The amount of water bottles we generate in this part of the world is huge compared to huge compared to the rest of the world.” 

Despite the challenges posed by the large amounts of waste in this part of the world, Sancho said he is confident in the measures taken “for the remediation and mitigation of this problem”, which include awareness raising and investments in waste-to-energy facilities. 

“In the UAE, all the [constituent] Emirates have put in place initiatives towards these waste to energy facilities and plants,” he said. 

As examples, Sancho pointed to the Emirates Waste to Energy Company, a joint venture between Masdar and Bee’ah, and Al Warsan, an AED 2.5 billion facility being built in Dubai that will eventually be able to power 120,000 homes. The facility is expected to begin operations by 2020.