A fee on the estimated volume of waste produced by businesses was introduced in Abu Dhabi on 20 February as part of a programme designed to cut the amount of waste dumped in the emirate’s landfill sites by 80 per cent by 2019, Essam al-Ahmad, technical adviser to the Centre of Waste Management (CWM) – Abu Dhabi, told MEED’s Waste Management 2011 conference in Abu Dhabi on 21 February 2011.

The fee is AED225 ($60) a tonne for the first year. Al-Ahmad said companies will have to prove they have cut the volume of waste generated by 20 per cent or face the fee rising by 100 per cent in the second year of the programme. The fee system does not apply to residential waste. Al-Ahmad says proposals for a tariff to be charged for residential waste are being considered.

The CWM was estasblished by the government of Abu Dhabi on 1 January 2009 to develop waste management services for the emirate.

Al-Ahmad said the CWM has so far approved 10 build-own-transfer (BOT) waste management and disposal projects in Abu Dhabi. They include three tyre recycling projects. Abu Dhabi produces more than 2 million waste tyres a year. The BOT projects involve concession holders selling recycled waste at a profit in return for paying a fee to the CWM. Al-Ahmad added that the CWM aims to be at least 70-80 per cent self-financing.

Abu Dhabi has built 115 underground domestic waste collection units. A contract has recently been signed to increase the number to 442. Other projects being implemented by the CWM include opening construction and demolition sites that will recycle building waste, now averaging 15,000 tonnes a day. This represents about 40 per cent of the total waste generated in Abu Dhabi.

Al-Ahmad told the conference that Abu Dhabi is moving towards an integrated waste management system that will encompass the whole of Abu Dhabi. “Options include waste to energy plants,” Al-Ahmad said. “There is also the possibility of using Union Railways to transfer waste.”

He added that on average each resident of Abu Dhabi is estimated to produce 2 kilos of waste a day, making it the highest waste-producing nation in the world.