Rise in waste, especially municipal waste, is a major concern for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with the total waste generated set to increase from 94 Mn MT in 2015 to as high as 120 Mn MT per annum by 2020, spurred by increases across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab emirates (UAE). This is significant as existing landfilling strategies will not suffice to handle the increase, resulting in a need for adopting alternate mechanisms to deal with waste, especially in a context of energy related issues.

Frost & Sullivan expects the GCC to make a move towards integrated waste management, with an emphasis on “waste-to-value” methods such as recycling and waste-to-energy coming into the picture. This can already be seen in the form of the recent tenders for waste management in the GCC, as well as across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Based on recent studies that Frost & Sullivan has undertaken, the market potential for waste can increase anywhere by 1.5-2 times in the next five years. This will disrupt the existing waste management industry, which has so far focused on the aspects of collection and transportation. Additionally, there is also a need for focus on optimising the segregation process, both at source and at material recovery facilities, to minimise waste diversion to landfills.

Waste composition is changing as well. While waste in the GCC has predominantly been construction and demolition and municipal, a rapid emergence of electrical and electronic waste, industrial hazardous, and bio-medical waste is also being observed, which would require environmental-friendly treatment capacities in addition to what is already in place today.

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 opportunities would not be limited to equipment specific to waste as energy equipment and pollution control equipment manufacturers also stand to gain. 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 formalised approach to the business of waste. Frost & Sullivan also believes that municipalities in the GCC can accelerate optimisation through benchmarking and assessment of successful models in other regions, and implementation of these learnings in the regional context.

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