Site visit: Inside Imdaad's new materials recovery facility
Imdaad’s 45,322m2 fully automated, materials recovery facility, Farz, incorporates smart recovery technologies to segregate and reclaim valuables from wastes
It is believed that an average person in the UAE produces a total of 2.5kg of waste every day, according to some studies. It becomes our responsibility to do something about it.
There are several waste-management options to choose from, such as landfills, recycling, composting, and incineration. However, landfills are the most common form of waste disposal, which require large amounts of land space. All landfills will eventually reach their capacity. As a result, recycling is always a better option than landfills when it comes to waste management.
The UAE's government website states: “Due to population growth and economic activities, the quantities of wastes in the UAE have increased in the last decade. Most of the waste ends up in municipal landfills or dumpsites, where organic waste generates a large amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Currently, little of the waste is burnt and the rate of municipal waste recycling has been rapidly rising.”
Dubai-based Imdaad has stepped up its game by launching a materials recovery facility (MRF), Farz, which will help recycle a significant amount of refuse being generated daily, delivering economic, health, and environmental benefits to the country’s residents and visitors as well the governments.
At the tipping floor, waste is being fed for shredding.
The firm marked the official launch on 3 February 2020 of Farz, situated at the National Industries Park in Jebel Ali. HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, was the chief guest at the event.
Established in 2007, Imdaad’s suite of services includes integrated FM as well as environmental services such as solid waste and wastewater management and power rentals.
Jamal Abdulla Lootah, group CEO, Imdaad, says: “In the UAE, as its cities continue to expand rapidly, it has become an absolute necessity to introduce efficient ways to manage the fast-growing household and commercial and industrial waste.” He adds that this MRF facility also represents the firm’s commitment to contributing to the goals of the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda, which envisages diverting 75% of all municipal solid waste away from landfills by 2021. According to Lootah, around AED80m was invested in the facility.
Jamal Abdulla Lootah, group CEO, Imdaad.
With a daily capacity of 1,200 tonnes and the most efficient recovery rate in the country at 25-30%, Farz is the most advanced MRF of its kind, Lootah claims. “It segregates and reclaims a variety of valuable materials, and the recovered materials are stored at the facility. We intend to close the recycling loop within Dubai, and are currently in discussion with recycling companies that need a regular supply of raw materials. Similarly, we have plans to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF) to maximise diversion and meet future demand as cement factories in the UAE have been urged by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to use alternate fuels such as RDF.”
The firm currently does not have plans to expand the facility; however, it claims to have sufficient land to double its capacity in National Industries Park in the future.
Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited is Farz’s technology partner in this project. Lootah says: “With its extended experience in civil, environmental and waste management infrastructure industries in India, Singapore, and the UAE, Ramky brings unmatched technical expertise to Farz.”
Talking a bit more on the process of recovery at the facility, Hamdan Al-Shaer, chairman, Farz, says: “Farz features a massive tipping floor where waste collected by Imdaad is received, sorted and stored before it goes through a series of material recovery processes. The facility is equipped with a host of sorting and segregation systems and technologies. They include a pre-sorting platform, where bulk items are segregated manually, an automatic bag opener, which processes waste bags and also acts as a primary shredder for waste, and a shredder, which then tears waste into smaller pieces. In addition, a trommel screen segregates materials based on their size while a wide range of separators, including magnetic, eddy current, ballistic and optical separators, segregate the materials according to their types.
Hamdan Al-Shaer, chairman, Farz.
“Even though we provide dedicated bins for different kinds of waste for the provision of source segregation, 65% of feed we receive at Farz is mixed waste. This necessitates us to spend time and effort in sorting waste at the facility. We believe that a lack of awareness is the key driver of this challenge.”
Al-Shaer adds that since Imdaad is in charge of transporting the waste into the facility, it has control over the feed at the facility. “We make sure that the material is clean and not wet. Because wet materials deteriorate the quality of recycling. Whenever we sort the material, it needs to be segregated properly.”
With a current recovery rate of 25-30%, Al-Shaer says that it can reach up to 90%. “We spoke to the minister and he is going to provide us the support to treat the remainder RDF instead of being transported to the landfill. When this happens, we will be able to reach 90%.”
In addition to recycling waste, Farz will also help reduce emissions caused by trucks that collect and carry waste to landfill. Imdaad has a fleet of more than 100 vehicles that collect waste from new Dubai premises and travel several kilometres daily on average to the landfill located at the Dubai-Sharjah border for disposal. With the new plant, all these vehicles will be removed from Dubai’s roads and highways, leading to a significant reduction in emissions and traffic as well.
Lootah explains: “All our trucks and other vehicles that collect waste from new Dubai premises are now delivering feed to Farz as a result of which skips will travel 72km less for emptying, delivering carbon emission offsets of 77kg per trip. Imdaad collects more than 250 skips daily and the facility will contribute to reducing CO2 emission by over 19,250kg per day. This signifies our commitment to contributing to the UAE’s efforts focused on reducing carbon footprint through sustainable practices.”
Farz is situated at the National Industries Park in Jebel Ali, Dubai.
Farz’s safety and maintenance
On the maintenance routine at Farz, Al-Shaer says: “At Farz, we process waste and recycle valuables through three different types of sorting, manual, mechanical and optical, using various technologies and equipment. In addition, we have a range of vehicles, such as shovels, grabbers, and forklifts. With the objective of increasing the lifespan and performance of these equipment and vehicles, we have adopted a preventive maintenance plan and a full maintenance plan that all our qualified engineers and technicians are following on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.”
The firm has also built a robust safety system to safeguard people and equipment and ensure safe operations at Farz. It is controlled by a PLC SCADA system, which eliminates the need for human intervention during the plant operation. In addition, a control room placed at the center of the plant and cameras installed throughout the facility enable easy and effective monitoring of the entire operation without any blind spots. The entire plant area is interconnected with the structure platforms that allow employees to access the equipment easily if required. Al-Shaer adds: “It is worth highlighting that the plant has been equipped with a comprehensive fire protection system and emergency switches have been provided at several accessible locations to deal with emergency situations.”
Farz adheres to the strictest international standards across its operations, says Al-Shaer. Even though the facility’s segregation processes are automated, quality control is being undertaken by trained professionals. He says: “We employ a total of 80 personnel across operations with 18 employees handling core functions every shift.”
The recovered material is sold as per the market price. Al-Shaer adds: “We store the reclaimed materials at the facility in the form of bales to be sold to potential buyers in the UAE or overseas. We aim to close the recycling loop within Dubai and are currently in discussion with recycling companies that need a regular supply of raw materials.
The waste sorted.
“You cannot rely on landfilling all the time. With waste, you can reuse and recycle into a product that can be sold. We are treating 13% of the total waste in Dubai. Dubai’s waste is only going to increase. We have to push ourselves to expand, and people need to push themselves to reduce waste.”
Lootah concludes by saying that the emirate has remained at the forefront of recycling efforts in the UAE inspired by Dubai Municipality’s Integrated Waste Management Master Plan, which has set an ambitious target of zero-waste-to-landfills by 2032. He says: “The government’s emphasis on reducing and managing waste has been driving innovation and technology adoption not only among facilities management companies but also among businesses across industries as well as communities and residents.”