Q: Please outline the background of Bee’ah.
Khaled Al Huraimel: With its headquarters in the Emirate of Sharjah, Bee’ah is an integrated environmental and waste management company. It was founded in 2007, through an Emiri decree by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, as a public private partnership (PPP) with the Sharjah City Municipality.
Bee’ah was established following the recognition that there was a need for a sophisticated waste management system that allows the recovery and diversion of waste from landfill sites, as well as retrofitting those landfills to the highest environmental standards.
Sharjah – one of the seven emirates in the UAE – is home to over 1.1 million residents from various cultures, speaking different languages, each with diverse lifestyles, and many being new to the concept of separating waste for recycling. Therefore, the need to keep raising awareness remains as strong as it did when the company was established.
Q: Are there any environmental problems that are particularly prominent in the Middle East?
KH: At present, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries produce a greater amount of waste per capita than any other region globally. The latest figures show that 80 million tonnes of waste is generated per year in the GCC – and estimated personal waste is as high as 2.5 kilos per person, per day. These statistics highlight the relevance of waste management in the region and create the need for a sustainable solution to meet the growing future environmental needs in the region.
The current objective is to find solutions to reduce and prevent waste to landfill. This is a significant challenge, which many organisations around the world have started to address. The UAE, specifically, is a developing country with an affluent population that is increasing, and the amount of waste that is generated is rising with every additional citizen.
The flourishing energy sector in GCC is opening up significant opportunities for industry players to develop new and innovative methods to produce energy from waste.
Furthermore, Bee’ah is not just looking to transform waste in Sharjah, with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia already open – Bee’ah is exporting its services to the largest Arab economy, as part of ambitious plans to expand beyond the UAE.
Q: How are Bee’ah’s solutions helping to tackle the wider environmental issues across the Middle East?
KH: As the leading waste management company in the Middle East, with a fully integrated waste collection and treatment management system, Bee’ah has set a goal for Sharjah to be the first country in the region to reach zero-waste to landfill and for Sharjah City to become the environmental capital of the Middle East.
Over the last seven years, Bee’ah has taken great strides to adopt best practices in waste management and has become a benchmark in the region for other companies to follow.
Bee’ah uses the guiding principles of the ISO9001 and the ISO14000 to guide its environmental waste management practices and has adopted a “cradle to cradle” programme focusing on the 4Rs – reduce, re-use, recycle, recover. These practices are embedded within the waste management centre (WMC) in Al Saj’ah, Sharjah, and they represent the four pillars upon which the company adopts innovative approaches to managing waste. It does this through a number of industrial, commercial and residential waste diversion operations and facilities that are already in operation.
Bee’ah’s street cleaning and waste collection division, Tandeef, manages waste collected from the city and brings it to the WMC where it is sorted and sent to dedicated state-of-the-art facilities managed and operated by Bee’ah. All of which must be operated following the highest international standards of health and safety.
The types of facilities Bee’ah operates include a construction and demolition waste recycling facility, which is one of the busiest in the world, a tyre recycling facility – the first of its kind in the region and using environmentally cryogenic processes, and the material recovery facility – the largest in the region and third largest in the world, where recyclable materials are recovered and baled. Wekaya is a medical waste storage and treatment facility. Then there is the landfill, which again one of the largest in the world, and is one of the only landfills reengineered in the region using enhanced safety practices to safely stores non-recyclable waste.
Bee’ah also takes its responsibility to the communities it serves very seriously and places its CSR-focused programmes at the forefront of its public activities. Bee’ah has created a number of community initiatives aimed at the public and students to promote the importance of the environment, as well as providing the necessary tools to help them improve and conserve the UAE’s valuable natural resources.
Bee’ah’s commitment lies within five core areas: customers, community, shareholders, employees, and the environment itself.
For its customers, Bee’ah’s promise is to create and operate the best integrated environment and waste management solutions. Within the community, Bee’ah seeks to provide a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable environment. For its shareholders, the company offers a strategy that will create lasting economic value. Employees remain a key component in Bee’ah’s activities and it places great emphasis on inspiring our employees to be environmental leaders and high performers. Last, but by no means least, Bee’ah seeks – at every turn – to reduce any negative impacts its own operations may have on the environment.
Q: How does Bee’ah create and implement awareness for adapting sustainable practice?
KH: Bee’ah is committed to leading the region’s efforts on environmental matters and changing attitudes and understanding of what needs to change.
Education and awareness are two of the company’s main tools in addressing attitudes to recycling and waste management. In 2010, Bee’ah launched the Bee’ah School of Environment (BSOE), supported by the Sharjah Education Zone (SEZ) and has also been sponsored by various corporate partners in this endeavour. Bee’ah’s environmental education initiative is free for all teachers and students, in Sharjah.
No other company in the Middle East is talking to the wider population and communicating to them regularly and through multiple channels, with the simple and direct message that we can only realise effective change by working together as a society. That is to say, it is only by working as a cohesive unit, towards a shared end goal, that we can help make our environment a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live in – for now and for future generations.
Awareness campaigns through events are also an important vehicle for the company to reach out to companies, organisations and individuals, and Bee’ah is tirelessly committed to facilitating these types of activities. The BSOE is another manifestation of these ongoing awareness programmes and Bee’ah’s dedicated approach to using education as a tool for realising its objectives.
Q: Please highlight your key plans for further progress.
KH: Recently, Bee’ah has launched it’s new headquarters, which is an icon of sustainability. Designed by one of the world’s leading architects, the late Zaha Hadid, the building is a futuristic and unique landmark, which reflects Bee’ah’s vision to become the leading environmental partner in the Middle East.
The new energy efficient headquarters will achieve Bee’ah’s objectives, introducing facilities, such as the parking space and solar PV dunes. Moreover, a central oasis will be located in the heart of the building, which will include shaded courtyards. Through the natural ventilation they produce, the shaded courtyards will also create a dynamic atmosphere where staff and visitors can interact.
We are currently building the region’s first – and world’s largest – waste-to-energy facility, utilising state-of-the-art gasification technology. The waste-to-energy plant will recycle 400,000 tons of waste annually, generating 35mw of green energy. Bee’ah’s strategic plan focuses on averting waste from landfill and increasing the diversion rates to reach 100%, and will do so in phases.
Among many strategic partnerships, Bee’ah has teamed up with Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, to develop the UAE’s waste to energy sector. This includes the co-development of waste to energy initiatives in Sharjah, the UAE and the region. This partnership will contribute to the UAE Government’s Vision 2021, which targets, among other goals, diverting waste from landfills by 75% by 2021.
The partnership has established a platform to develop similar projects across the Middle East in the future. Under the agreement, a Centre of Excellence in Waste Management will also be set up in Sharjah to advance education, innovation and capacity building in waste to energy.
From our side, we are currently working on the development of new facilities that aim to treat all the waste collected, to turn it into reusable material and put it back to use. These treatment initiatives or future facilities will include waste-to-energy technology, organic composting, wood recycling and further initiatives for the treatment of other types of waste streams.
Bee’ah has long been committed to enhancing the wellbeing and quality of life among UAE communities and we want to serve as a powerful instigator for environmental change, across the Middle East.