Saturday, February 4, 2012

Khaleej Times: Abu Dhabi targets 90% waste recycling by 2018

Ironically, the oil-producing countries of the Middle East also offer the greatest potential for using Renewable Energy - an abundance of solar power makes them ideal locations for solar thermal power, solar photovoltaics and for the use of solar water heaters and airconditioning systems. The cities which are closely packed also offer fantastic opportunities for recycling waste - which is where this proposal to recycle 90% of he waste in Abu Dhabi becomes interesting.

This is going to be a development that I shall watch. I am guessing that the plan will work as follows:

1. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and recyclable food and grocery packaging will end up being collected in recyclable trash bins and shipped to India and Pakistan where huge industries exist in reprocessing these materials

2. Ditto for paper - I am aware of paper being shipped to India and Pakistan from the UAE already. My guess is that the paper collection activity will be streamlined and made more efficient

3. Used engine oil will be collected more carefully. India used to be a major center for processing used engine oil, but the Government of India banned this after a poisoning incident where some crooks mixed it with cooking oil and ended up blinding and killing people in India in the 1980s. However, with the sharply increasing price of engine oils, I can foresee used engine oil getting reprocessed once more

I have questions about the processing of sewage and food waste, however. I am not sure if the food waste would be composted or if it would continue to be buried. And whether the sewage would be processed into fertilizer or just burned. Sewage also offers the opportunity to extract methane for use as a fuel. There are advanced technologies available that would help here - at least two US companies, one in Texas and the other in California offer technologies to process food waste and sewage into gasoline and jet fuel. Some of this is currently being bought by the US Air Force from the company in Texas, and the Californian company has a project in Japan as well as one in San Francisco. Perhaps, the UAE will consider inviting these companies to use their technologies in Abu Dhabi. Who knows - this may even increase the amount of waste processed to over 90%.

Here's wishing the UAE well!

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