Mark Siddorn, general manager of waste management specialists, Dulsco, talks to Lauren Willington about what can be done to curb the waste generated by the region's construction sector.
What is the biggest issue concerning construction waste?
The amount of construction going on in Dubai is growing every day - that's the biggest issue. Environmentally, the issue is to do with the amount of waste generated by it. I think the initiative by Al Rostamani and Dubai Municipality to build a waste recycling plant is the best thing to have been introduced so far.
What are the challenges you face because of this?
Transportation is a challenge, because the roads are getting more restricted, and now we have Salik. You can't have a vehicle on the road during peak times, which makes it more difficult to move it around the city. On the one hand, construction sites tend to be operating 24 hours a day, so to move waste around the city at night is probably easier for us, but on the other hand, because of volumes in the landfills like Jebel Ali, Al Qusais and Al Awir, it's a struggle to handle the amount of waste that's being generated. Dulsco is in talks with the government to expand the hours they're actually opening, so we can dispose of it on a regular basis.
How can waste be used?
Construction waste is normally used as cover domestic waste in landfills, so once they've filled an area they'll use construction waste to squash it down, and also to make sure it doesn't move anywhere. The vast majority of construction waste is made up of around 70% concrete and tarmac, then you have your wood and plastics as well, which of course can all be recycled. I hope, eventually, that all construction waste will end up being recycled.
What's the process involved in handling construction waste?
Crushing plants crush the particles down, and these are then used as road base.
They have the same process in Europe with wood, which is broken into splinters and sent to a ‘waste to energy plant,' to produce heat and energy.
Will you be looking into ‘waste to energy' plants?
It will be happening. The municipality has hired a consultant, who is an expert in ‘waste to energy' - they are looking to issue a tender to build three ‘waste to energy plants' in Dubai to deal with municipal waste, so whatever is left after the recycled material is taken out will be sent to a ‘waste to energy' plant.
How does this process work?
It will go to a furnace which is on a conveyor belt. It starts burning and continues to burn, so there's no fuel used and the heat that's produced will produce steam which can then be used to produce energy, which is then sent to a power station for connection to the grid.
Do you think that the new green laws will affect the volume of construction waste produced?
If you have a ‘green' building, it will obviously have a very low energy consumption, as it uses solar panels for electricity and you recycle everything that's used in the building. It's very energy efficient and there's all sorts of aspects that make it a ‘green' building. At the construction stage, I think it would be quite difficult to make it a ‘green' building because concrete is not ‘green'. From the moment you start making cement to the moment you actually cast it is environmentally unfriendly.
Do you think that people working on construction sites should be made more aware of how to handle waste properly?
I think once the Al Rostamani recycling plant for construction waste starts, construction site personnel need to be advised that wood should go into one skip, plastic into another and concrete in another.
Even now we try to advise them to segregate and recycle some of the wood. The problem is there's so much pressure on site, and with the commununication difficulty that comes with having a labourforce speaking many different languages, actually telling them to put waste in the right skip is a challenge.For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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