In 10 years, Bee’ah has grown from a 60-employee firm to a 7,000-member workforce. Bee’ah’s chief development officer Fahad Shehail speaks to Afkar Abdullah about its efforts towards sustainable development.
With the support of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, Bee’ah has enjoyed remarkable growth. At inception, Bee’ah was a company with 60 employees, offering only three stream bins. Now we are a regional leader in environmental management, with a workforce of close to 7,000, setting unprecedented diversion rates.
Bee’ah’s core mission was that of achieving zero-waste to landfill. Through efficiency in conversion and recycling techniques, we have managed to increase the rate of diversion of waste from landfill from 20 per cent in 2009 to more than 70 per cent in 2016.
Through its various awareness programmes, Bee’ah has also managed to increase recycling rates in Sharjah. We have executed solutions for some of the most significant corporate and municipal entities in the region for future projects that are set to have transformative and revolutionary impact for the waste management industry.
From serving the municipality of Sharjah, we have now expanded our services to other areas.
Moving towards a holistic approach to environmental management, we are also implementing measures for the management of air and water quality. In partnership with the American University of Sharjah, we have established Sharjah’s first Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System, to monitor the atmospheric quality, and propose necessary action. We also collaborated with the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), to conduct water quality studies on Al Khalid and Al Khan lagoons. We are also exploring new pursuits in renewable energy.
What are the efforts being made in recycling different types of waste?
Bee’ah is now a regional leader in environmental management, thanks to our innovative approach to waste treatment and recovery. This approach has helped us to achieve our zero waste to landfill goal, much earlier than anticipated.
Our material recovery facility, tyre recycling facility, construction and demolition waste recycling facility, liquid waste recycling, medical waste facility, compost plant, e-waste dismantling and processing facility, and car and metal shredding and recycling facility have been established to recover and recycle various materials including paper, cardboards, plastics, metals, aluminium, organic food waste, electronic waste, industrial liquid waste, commercial and industrial waste.
In addition to treating different types of waste, our approach is based on the reintegration of these items, to fuel a circular economy. Rubber products are typically recycled into jogging tracks, rubber tiles and other useful materials while tyres are converted to crumb rubber, which is used to create stadium playing areas, miniature golf courses, play grounds etc. The waste from the construction and demolition waste recycling facility is processed and reused as aggregate for roads, pavements and walkways while the water collected, after processing, from the liquid waste recycling facility, can be used for irrigation and energy purposes. Waste from the compost plant is converted to fertiliser and used for irrigation, farming and the greening of Sharjah’s pavements and streets.
What kinds of technology and processes do you adopt?
Bee’ah uses state-of-the-art facilities to ensure maximum efficiency in recycling and recovery.
The total recovery rate for our material recovery facility (MRF) is around nine per cent, which is considered to be the best in the Middle East. At the moment, 50 per cent of waste is being recycled and thus, diverted from the landfill.
The MRF is the first facility in the region to use highly advanced technology that processes mixed (dirty) household waste to increase the percentage of recovery. The new polishing screens improve the separation efficiency, decrease energy consumption and boost the recovery of organic materials by 50 per cent to 600 tonnes per day.
What are some of your strategic plans for future development?
Our ambitions are not confined to waste management but extend to improving the quality of life for people in this region.
Supporting the UAE’s transition from an oil-dependent nation to a clean energy economy, we have formed a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar, to establish the Emirates Waste to Energy Company (EWTE). The EWTE has also broken ground on its first venture, Sharjah’s first waste-to-energy facility, which will process 300,000 tonnes of waste yearly, supplying 35MW of energy to the Sharjah power grid, reaching more than 15,000 homes. We have also partnered with CNIM, France’s leading waste-to-energy company, to design, build and operate the plant. With the help of this facility, Sharjah will soon become the first city in the region, to achieve the ‘zero waste to landfill’ goal.
Given the rapid growth of technology, sustainable and ethical platforms are a necessity. Catering to this need, we have established a new tech company, EvoTeq. EvoTeq will be aimed at enhancing digital transformation by addressing challenges that arise in logistics, education, healthcare and other industries. The first initiative we will undertake under EvoTeq is a digital platform called SmartTrack. This solution will offer great benefits to the healthcare industry by tackling the issue of drug counterfeiting.
Construction is also under way for Bee’ah’s new headquarters. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the iconic building is expected to achieve a Platinum LEED rating, the highest certification for green buildings. The building will also be completely powered by renewable energy sources, like solar power and waste-to-energy.
We will also be partnering with Shurooq, UAE-based financial services company Gulf Islamic Investments (GII); and Attero Recycling India Ltd, an e-waste recycler from India, in a new venture called Attero-Tadwir-E, which hopes to meet the computer and electronic recycling demands of the UAE and the region.
Recognising the need for specialised segregation and processing of waste, Bee’ah will soon become the first environmental company in the region to have individual facilities for wood waste processing and recycling, industrial liquid and oil waste processing and treatment, used cooking oil processing and recycling, paper and cardboard recycling, plastic film recycling and PET plastic recycling.
Bee’ah is now consulting for cities and municipalities, from across the Mena region, and hopes to replicate its model of success in countries like Saudi Arabia, which already has a regional office in place.
What are the projects being implemented in coordination with the Sharjah Municipality to protect the environment?
We have worked closely with the Sharjah Municipality to establish a long-term waste management strategy for the emirate. Today, Sharjah is one of the cleanest cities in the region, displaying innovative environmental practices that are on par with world-class cities.
We provide municipal services for the city, including street sweeping, cleaning, waste management and collection, and beautification services for the maintenance of pavements and public areas. We have also developed a state-of-the-art collection service for the safe and responsible disposal of waste in residential areas, serving more than 400,000 households in the emirate.
We are also working with the Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Area Authority (EPAA) to preserve the desert economy in the emirate. In the near future, there are plans to launch a series of new awareness campaigns with the municipality’s support.
What is the quantity of waste treated since the establishment of the Waste Management Centre at Al Saja’a?
Bee’ah collects and treats more than 2.3 million tonnes of waste every year, from around 1.1 million residents in Sharjah alone. Established in 2009, Bee’ah’s material recovery facility is the largest in the Middle East and the third largest in the world. Bee’ah’s MRF processes over 2,000 tonnes of recyclable waste daily.
How does Bee’ah deal with construction, industrial, medical and commercial waste?
Bee’ah’s construction and demolition waste facility is one of the busiest in the world. Concrete, bricks, wood, insulation and asphalt is processed to be reused as aggregate for roads, pavements and walkways. The facility is charged with waste reduction and the recycling of construction, demolition and land clearing debris resulting from the construction industry. Using mammoth machinery, large blocks of concrete and debris are broken down and processed in approximately 15 minutes.
Wekaya, which was established in 2011, is the premier medical waste management facility for the safe and compliant collection, treatment and disposal of medical waste. It ensures maximum infection control and maintains accurate tracking documentation.
Our approach to waste management for commercial entities is very personalised. In Dubai, we cater to the needs of establishments like the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai World Trade Centre, Emaar, City Walk, Tecom, Damac Properties, Marina Mall and du telecom.
To meet the challenges of these diversified contracts, Bee’ah has mobilised cutting-edge technology like geo-tagged smart bin sensors and automated route optimisation, as well as an advanced fleet consisting of more than 800 eco-friendly, electric and CNG-powered vehicles.
What is your treatment process for tyres and scrap?
Bee’ah’s tyre recycling facility (TRF) is a world-class facility that uses state-of-the-art cryogenic processes to recycle used tyres. It recycles over 9,000 used tyres every day, achieving a remarkable recovery rate of 100 per cent in the past quarter. The tyres are converted to crumb rubber which can be used for different applications. Four different size ranges of crumb rubber result from the process, which can also produce rubber tiles, rubber mulch, and moulded products.
The car shredding and recycling facility forms part of Bee’ah’s integrated waste management solution and houses the world’s most powerful shredding machine to date, the Red Giant. The facility shreds old car bodies and another light metal scrap, segregating the individual metal, glass and plastic components for recycling. The machine weighs 44 tonnes and can shred 60 car bodies per hour. It is operated on crawler tracks so it can travel distances.
How Bee’ah is teaching the community about the importance of recycling
In 2012, Bee’ah launched a door-to-door awareness programme to help encourage recycling in homes and to educate people on the benefits of being environment-friendly. Almost 75 per cent of residents in Sharjah benefited from the programme. Recently, a Sharjah-wide campaign titled, ‘Recycling Just Got Easier’ supplied green and blue, bio-degradable, recycling bags to the public across four Sharjah Cooperative Society outlets.
This year, Bee’ah rolled out reverse vending machines (RVMs) in high footfall locations. Community members are encouraged to deposit their aluminium cans and plastic bottles in the RVMs, and are rewarded for their efforts through Bee’ah Rewards.
Bee’ah’s solar-powered smart bins have also inspired recycling practices and responsible disposal of waste by providing free Wi-Fi to users.
Bee’ah’s mobile app also encourages recycling in the community by identifying the nearest recycling point, in addition to providing easy access to services like ‘You Call, We Haul’, where people can contact Bee’ah to collect and recycle their bulky waste.
Seeking to educate the young generation on the importance of environmental practices like recycling, the Bee’ah School of Environment was launched in 2010. The school has been successful in reaching over 170,000 students and 5,000 teachers so far.
In addition, an annual competition was launched under the school in 2014, which shows students from participating schools the importance of waste reduction by promoting teamwork through a competitive spirit to collect paper, plastic and aluminium materials for recycling.
Source: Khaleej Times