Waste Management: A Case Study Of Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC
Waste Management: A Case Study Of Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC
In an effort to address the issue of sustainability, many industries and countries are pursuing a strategy of maintaining the balance between the natural environment and the built environment. As experience gained over the years indicates, this balance is best attained by moving away from the convectional linear production approach toward a cyclic process that is founded on reuse, recycling, minimization and prevention of waste generation. By definition, waste management involves collection, transportation, and disposal of waste material. A broader definition, however, also involves prevention and elimination of waste materials. The concept of waste management has emerged as one of the major indicators of corporate social responsibility for industries, and different approaches are being used to reduce, minimize, and prevent waste generation. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the process of waste management with a special focus on UAE and Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC in particular. The first goal of the paper is to define different terms associated with waste management.
Different terms including pollution prevention, waste minimization, cleaner production, and zero waste are used when addressing the issue of waste management. While these terms have tended to be used interchangeably, they have distinctive meanings. Also known as source reduction, pollution prevention involves eliminating, reducing or preventing pollution at its source. Techniques used for pollution prevention include recycling and reuse of materials, housekeeping, prevention maintenance, inventory management, chemical sample testing, and maintaining input quality (Al-Hajj & Hamani 2011, p. 223). Waste minimization encompasses both source reduction and efforts to apply environmentally sound strategies in order to recycle and reuse hazardous waste material. Common techniques used in waste minimization include recycling and reuse of waste materials, avoiding purchasing products that will become waste, housekeeping and process change (MIT n.d.). Cleaner production, at the other extreme, is aimed at minimizing emissions and waste production while increasing the product output. This is achieved through techniques such as substitution of input materials, technological changes, product modification, and recycling (MIT n.d.). On its part, zero waste is a concept used in line with efforts to revamp resource lifecycles in a bid to ensure that all products are reused and there is no waste in the production process. This is attained through process redesigning, technology change, and product modification (MIT n.d.). Whichever term is used, waste management has become a crucial endeavor in the modern world, especially given the effects of the global warming and increased calls for sustainability.
Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC deals with the recycling of construction and demolition waste in Abu Dhabi. Notably, the aggressive push by the UAE government to attain sustainable development comes with a number of challenges, especially in the construction sector where most companies prefer using landfills to dispose of waste materials. More specifically, UAE is considered to be among the top generators of wastes in the Middle East and alongside countries such as Saudi Arabia. For example, Gulf News (2008; cited in: Al-Hajj & Iskandarani 2012, p. 1) estimates that construction waste in Dubai stands at the staggering 30 thousands tones per day. Much of this waste arises from the aggressive strategy applied by the government and the private sector to invest in infrastructural project.
In addressing the aforementioned challenge, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries’ main goal is to reduce the level of construction wastes being disposed in landfills by recycling such waste to later produce alternative and cheaper building materials. Furthermore, the company aims at converting construction and demolition waste, making the products that can be reused as road base aggregate and as both unplanned and planned backfill projects. This is achieved by working in line with the Emirate’s executive council regulations. These regulations require construction companies to use at least 40 percent of recycled materials in their projects. To assist in attaining this requirement, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC collects construction and demolition waste and recycles it to produce different alternative materials for construction purposes. According to the company, between 5 and 7 thousand tones of materials are processed during every shift. This translates to between 10 and 14 thousand tones for every working day. These materials are commercially beneficial because they are cheaper as compared to virgin materials. The cost of transportation is low and is characterized by low density and by extension, by low cost per cubic meter. Moreover, these materials help in reducing overreliance on natural resources, production of greenhouse gases, and the need for landfills.
Al Dhafra Recycling Industries Waste Management Techniques
As suggested in the company’s name, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries relies on recycling techniques in order to manage construction and demolition waste in Abu Dhabi. The company collects this waste from different construction sites, after which it recycles them to be reused for new construction projects. Waste materials collected from demolition sites and other construction projects are transported to the company’s recycling site along Hameem Road, where they are recycled by using an all-purpose plant (Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC n.d.). After processing, these materials can be used independently or in combination with the virgin materials in order to construct new projects. The government of Abu Dhabi and UAE at large has been proactive in encouraging industries and companies to adopt sustainable practices with the primary aim of easing pressure on natural resources and reducing environmental degradation in line with recognized international standards. The construction industry is no exception, and the use of recycled materials in construction projects is the requirement set by the government.
Recycled construction materials have been shown to have characteristics close to those of the virgin raw materials. According to Taher (2013; cited in Al Zarouni 2015), recycled construction materials are used according to their specifications in different projects. Such materials are used in the foundation of road projects, for drainage related projects, in construction of foundation for buildings or as aggregates in grounding concrete. While this is what often happens, some studies have argued with this observation. In the study conducted by Al Zarouni (2015), the recycled materials have different properties as compared to the virgin materials. This difference is mainly a result of impurities sustained during the recycling process. These impurities tend to reduce the density and increase porosity in the recycled materials. The resulting qualitative differences create differences in recycled products and virgin materials marketing (Noeiaghaei 2009). Still, recycling the construction and demolition materials has proved to be beneficial in terms of both environmental and economic costs.
Another techniques used by Al Dhafra Recycling Industries is that of source reduction. Whilst the company mainly focuses on recycling the construction materials, it also emphasizes the need for understanding the process of producing them and enacting changes necessary for elimination and minimization of waste. Process and resource efficiency are of paramount importance to the company if they want to achieve full benefits of recycling (Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC n.d.). During the recycling process, the company endeavors to substitute environmentally harmful materials for those that have less impact on the environment. This also includes changing the product specification in order to produce products that are friendly to both built and natural environments. It is important to note that the level of waste in any construction site is dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to the design of the project, the stage of construction, the construction methods implemented, the storage methods, and the skills and experiences of the construction workers (Elchalakani & Elgaali 2012, p. 116).
In addressing some of the aforementioned challenges, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries has devised an educational and training strategy for its clients. This involves training them on different projects, informing them that different grades of recycled materials can be used, and showing the best ways to use them. Furthermore, the company has also started educating its clients on the best storage methods and on how to best gauge the amount of material required for any particular project. The brochures aimed at educating construction workers on the best ways to handle materials during construction in order to eliminate or reduce wastage are also involved in the training program (Al Dhafra Recycling Industries LLC n.d.). Advising clients on the grading required for different projects helps to ensure zero wastage and waste minimization. At the recycling plant, the company emphasizes the need to grade its materials in a way that minimizes wastage as much as possible. This ensures that there is minimal wastage not only in the recycling plant, but also on the construction site where the materials are being reused.
Al Dhafra Recycling Industries recognizes the significance of human attitudes in regard to waste minimization. In this relation, the company has been trying to sensitize the construction workers through their respective companies to develop a positive attitude toward waste prevention (MIT n.d.). The motivational influences in this case play a vital role in winning the war against the waste reduction in the construction industry. In this context, the company has been proactive in promoting positive attitude in construction workers by engaging them on a continual basis and educating them on the benefits of waste management in the industry (Rahal 2007, p. 407). This involves visiting construction sites and interacting with workers, giving them tips on how to best conserve and store construction materials and on how to improve the waste management.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Waste management practices have attracted a lot of attention in the modern business world, especially given the focus on reversing the effects of global warming and diminishment of natural resources. Today, most countries and industries are encouraging firms and individual households to adopt good waste management practices for a sustainable future. The UAE construction industry has not been spared from this pressure. UAE construction industry has been earmarked as one of the major waste generating sectors in the economy. This has largely been caused by the increased focus on infrastructure investment and lack of the experienced and skilled workers in the construction industry. To address the issue of waste management in the industry, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries has been focusing on recycling and reusing the construction and demolition materials. The company recycles these materials to be later used independently or in combination with the virgin materials. The company has been on the forefront to collect the waste and to convert it into usable materials through recycling. The company has also been trying to manage waste through source reduction and training of construction workers through their respective companies.
As a recommendation, Al Dhafra Recycling Industries should increase its training of project managers on the importance and benefits of waste management in terms of the environment and the economy as a whole. Secondly, the incentives could be created for the companies that adhere to the waste management requirements. For example, giving price incentives could suffice. This will not only benefit the industry as a whole, but it will also help the companies as they will have access to the construction waste materials. In addition, the companies should look for the ways to push for legislation, making it mandatory for the constructions companies in the Emirates to use a certain level of recycled materials as opposed to imposing that requirement only when such materials are available. Sensitizing construction companies to the importance of the recycled materials in waste management can also help to increase sales revenue, while at the same time reducing waste in the industry.