Reducing the waste mountain

Prakash Parab, general manager of Dulsco waste management services on the rising demand for construction waste management services powered by the construction boom.
Reducing the waste mountain
By Prakash Parab
Sat 22 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

The UAE has always made headlines in terms of building and construction. Housing projects that were announced three years ago are all nearing completion.

It's of no wonder it is said that Dubai holds the record of having the highest number of cranes per capita, a proof of its booming real-estate business.

An immediate outcome of the boom is a rise in construction waste, and the GCC is ranked in the top ten worldwide in terms of waste production per capita. Of the 120 million tonnes of waste produced in the GCC, approximately 55% is said to be construction and demolition waste.

A total of 30,000 tonnes of construction waste is created every day in Dubai alone. Last year, the emirate's booming construction industry spewed out 27.7 million tonnes of waste, recording an increase of 163% from the 10.5 million tonnes generated in 2006.

Construction and demolition makes up 75% of the total solid waste generated in Dubai every year.

The increasing quantity of construction waste has simultaneously given rise to an increasing demand for waste management services. The market is ripe for companies to enter into the demand-and-supply gap and improvise on waste management systems and procedures.

Dulsco is one such Dubai-based waste management company involved in the collection and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste to landfills and treatment facilities.

Dulsco provides waste management services for Dutco Construction Company and Dutco Balfour Beatty and the demand is so high that clients with a regular schedule also call for in-between collection services.

Dulsco uses skip loader vehicles for the collection and disposal of construction waste, wherein 12m3 skips are loaded on vehicles for transport to either the disposal site, which is the construction landfill in Al Aweer, or the Emirates Recycling plant for construction waste in Al Lusaily.

Safety rules

The company follows stringent safety rules while dealing with construction waste. Regular training and refresher courses are provided to workers in order to ensure that all systems and operational procedures are in place while handling and disposing waste.

Safety measures are very important and it is mandatory for all operators to wear helmets, gloves and reflective jackets. Workers are advised to maintain a safe distance of 6m while waste is being lifted and on-site supervisors are present to ensure that all the procedures are being carefully followed.

Vehicles are routinely checked and drivers are trained in safety and are given timely instructions to improve driving habits.

In fact, Dulsco has a GPRS vehicle tracking system that ensures timely tracking of vehicles to ensure operational efficiency. The same system alerts the management if a vehicle is moving faster than the optimum speed limit.

Plans are on the anvil to upgrade the back-office management systems by integrating the existing vehicle tracking system with a skip management system in order to deliver service in time and with increased efficiency.

The upgraded system will help management to understand the frequency of vehicle breakdown and look into aspects such as preventive maintenance, and take decisions on costing and procurement.

In addition, skips will be fixed with RFID tags to enable managers to monitor skips that are assigned to a particular client, and to ascertain the frequency of use of each individual skip.

This will help the company to identify any skip which is not being used, or is being used less frequently. Such skips can then be diverted to other job sites.

A distinct move towards the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) Green Building Rating System can be seen in the region, with the result that most developers want to recycle at least 75% of the construction waste generated through their projects.

The focus is on recycling construction waste and reusing the recycled material. This initiative is welcomed by the industry as construction waste cannot always be dumped into landfills.

Recycling efforts

We support recycling efforts by carrying construction waste to the Emirates Recycling plant in Al Lusaily, which we do with most new constructions. We are currently in discussions with major developers of waterfront projects to offer our support to the recycling initiative.

Where the landfill is concerned, the system currently in place is that once the construction waste reaches the landfill, it is checked to rule out the possibility of recyclable material being dumped there. Pure waste is sent to the Emirates Recycling plant to be treated. However, most of the waste sent to the landfills is mixed waste.

However, construction waste cannot generate revenue for waste management companies, which is possible through other recyclable products like paper, cardboard, metal and plastic.

While Dulsco pursues its objective of systemmising waste management procedures, it is left to be seen whether the government, private sector and service providers will join hands to see that a situation does not arise where the construction landfill at Al Aweer will soon be bursting at the seams.If you would like to write for Construction Week in this column, please email rob.wagner@itp.com

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