Abdulmajeed Saifaie, Director, Waste Management Department, Dubai Municipality talks to Swaliha Shanavas about their current plans and latest smart solutions they are introducing for waste management in the emirate as part of their efforts to enhance operational efficiencies and make the city cleaner, greener and smarter.
As Dubai continues to raise the bar in all fields in line with its strategy to become not only a smart city but also the most sustainable city in the region, Dubai Municipality is implementing measures to enhance operational efficiencies in various areas and improve the quality of life of its residents, at the same time ensuring environmental protection. Dubai Municipality’s Waste Management Department is constantly looking to raise the standards and keep pace with developments around the world, not only with regard to best practices, but also with regard to the latest technologies that are available on the market.
They have been regularly incorporating advanced waste management solutions and modern technologies and had recently introduced special equipment for removing small pieces of trash and cigarette butts from roads, markets, residential areas, etc. Abdulmajeed Saifaie, Director, Waste Management Department, Dubai Municipality says these new machines and equipment contribute significantly towards providing high-quality services and realising their vision of building a sustainable city in the long run. “We always strive to bring in modern technology and machines that support all our operations to improve the cleanliness levels and enhance the overall appearance of the emirate of Dubai.”
Nord automated waste collection system
There are some exciting developments, says Eng. Saifaie. They have bought a lot of new waste management equipment including a well-known brand of waste compactors and the Municipality will soon roll out the equipment in the emirate, he adds. The Nord Easy waste management solution is an advanced compacting system that is widely used in Europe. The fully commissioned environmentally friendly system will soon be seen in operation in Dubai, the Director says. “This year, we bought three of these compactors on a trial basis and will be in operation in certain areas like Mamzar to begin with. I have seen the system functioning in many countries and it is very efficient. I hope by next year we will have more of them coming in,” he remarks.
The fully automated system is well-suited for implementation in medium to low-rise as well as high-rise areas and helps in replacing the traditional way of waste collection with an advanced technology suitable for urban areas. The automation of the waste collection process eliminates human contact with the waste and reduces labour as it is a single-person operated system. The system, complete with sensors has a side-loading facility. Further, it removes many hazards traditionally associated with waste such as fly tipping, foraging street cats, waste strewn around causing bad odours, etc., says Eng. Saifaie. The compactors have been customised as per their requirements, and the colour and branding of the equipment that will soon arrive is in line with all other equipment at Dubai Municipality, he comments.
The municipality will soon introduce the solar-powered Bigbelly bins in specific areas in Dubai, he notes. With increasing population, there is an increase in the waste being generated and bins are filling up fast. The Bigbelly is a smart solution that helps reduce waste in public areas to complement regular waste collection process. The system is said to ease logistics, reduce clutter and enhance community experience with improved services. They have purchased some Bigbelly bins and these will initially be placed on Sheikh Zayed Road, notes Eng. Saifaie, adding that since the bin comes with Wi-Fi, people can access internet when they are in the area.
Towards a green cycle
At present, an average 9300 tons of solid waste is produced in the emirate per day. The introduction of GPS tracking system, and the rule that stipulates that companies need to get necessary permissions and have relevant stickers on the vehicles to enter the landfill, have helped in reducing to some extent the waste reaching their landfills, he says. The department had earlier mandated all waste transport companies to install GPS in their vehicles so the authorities can track their movements and measure the amount of waste being transported to the landfill. The highly anticipated tipping fee will soon be imposed by Dubai Municipality that would make a significant difference to the amount and type of waste reaching the emirate’s landfills.
In a smart move, the municipality has formulated different fee structures. At present, Dubai charges a nominal gate fee of AED 10 per truckload of waste, but the new tariff, which will vary based on the different types of waste, will help reduce the amount of waste reaching the landfills, says Eng. Saifaie. For instance, if a company brings in dirty waste the charges will be four times the normal fee; and four times cheaper if one brings in clean waste material, as it will go to the recycling station and not the landfill. So, companies taking the initiative will save a lot of money as they would be paying less landfill fee. “I believe it is going to be a very good change not only for us but for the private sector as well,” he notes. Various waste management companies have also expressed that they are waiting for the implementation of the fee as it will ensure the material coming in would be cleaner.
Moreover, he says people would be willing to operate recycling facilities for different waste streams as the gate fee would help support the factories due to availability of material. A few months back they had invited expression of interest for various recycling facilities for different waste streams, says Eng. Saifaie and “now people are approaching us and we are in the process of examining contracts for some facilities. We are also waiting for the new landfill to be established. Once that is operational, all the areas from the landfill to the main road would have sorting facilities.” “I am sure that once the fee is introduced the quantity of waste will reduce greatly because sorting/recycling facilities would be there. We have reviewed the landfill fee structure and have submitted it to the authorities for final approval. Once this is done, we will give a deadline to the companies to comply with the rules, and possibly early next year the tipping fee will be fully implemented,” Saifaie underlines.