Future Opportunities in the Gulf Region

Sustainability will be the governing force, driving the change on how waste is addressed in this region.

According to a new study conducted by the consulting company Frost & Sullivan‘s Energy and Environment Research Team, the rise in waste, especially municipal waste, is likely to become a major reason for concern for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, an intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates). It is estimated that the total waste generated will increase from 94 million tons in 2015 to as high as 120 million tons per annum by 2020.

As projected, this will be spurred by the rapid increase in waste generation predominantly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “The rise is significant as municipalities in the GCC are not equipped to handle this level of waste generation through the existing landfilling strategies,” Frost & Sullivan found out. “Adoption of alternate handling mechanisms to deal with the problem of increasing waste would be required, especially when the block of countries is also striving to make amends to the energy mix.”

GCC will have to make a radical move towards integrated waste management with emphasis on ‘waste-to-value‘ methods such as recycling and waste-to-energy coming into the picture, Abhay Bhargava, Associate Director and Regional Head – Middle East – Energy & Environment Group, is convinced. This could already be seen in the form of the recent tenders for waste management in the GCC, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Based on recent studies that Frost & Sullivan has undertaken as part of a global waste management advisory practice, the market potential for waste can increase anywhere by 1.5-2 times in the next five years. This will also disrupt the existing waste management industry, which has so far primarily focused on the aspects of collection and transportation.

Additionally, there is also a need for greater focus on optimizing the segregation process, both at source and at material recovery facilities to minimize waste diversion to landfills. Another disruption would be in waste composition itself. While waste in the GCC has predominantly been construction, demolition and municipal, a rapid emergence of electrical and electronic waste, industrial hazardous and bio-medical waste is also being observed.

Frost & Sullivan feels that this disruption will result in emergence of opportunities in the sector for companies that can deliver solutions around segregation, recycling, sustainable treatment, and waste-to-energy across services, technologies, and equipment. “The need of the hour, considering the current scenario, would be to look at skills development, partnerships, and technology acquisition, all of which require a more formalized approach to the business of waste,” the experts said. Frost & Sullivan also believes that municipalities in the GCC can accelerate optimization through benchmarking and assessment of successful models in other regions, and implementation of these learnings in the regional context.


Photo: Armin Volkmann  / pixelio.de