Sultan Qaboos University and Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be'ah) are involved in a mutually beneficial partnership that will strengthen the ‘green campus’ mission of the University. The cooperation program aims to promote the strategic goals of be’ah with regard to achieving landfill diversion and promote circular economy initiatives across the Sultanate of Oman, through the establishment of a Reuse Center. The long-term objective of be’ah is to create sustainable waste management solutions and drive a conscious habit to nurture a sustainable future. In this interview, Eng. Tariq Al Amri, Chief Executive Officer of be'ah talks in detail about be’ah’s initiatives towards building a sustainable future in general and about the Reuse Centre to be set up at SQU.
Since its inception in 2009, how far be’ah has achieved its goals?
Eng. Tariq: be'ah had a successful history with its various accomplishments with regard to applying sustainable waste management strategies. Our first priority was to control the damage caused by more than 300 traditional open dumpsites scattered across the country and the bad practices in waste handling. We closed over 200 dumpsites in the past few years and replaced them with 8 engineered landfills and 13 transfer stations. Our goal is to close all dumpsites and replace them with a total of 11 engineered landfills and 18-25 transfer stations. The waste management services was outsourced to the private sector in order to collaborate towards joint responsibility in conserving Oman’s environment.
We also started providing treatment services for healthcare waste in 2012 and our services are currently covering over 99% of healthcare waste generated in Oman. As for Industrial Waste, be’ah is working towards expediting the establishment of the treatment facilities, which will enable be'ah in providing integrated services as per international environmental standards. Our company has set an ambitious target to reduce amount of waste going into landfills by diversion rate of 60% moving towards 80% by 2030. This can be accomplished via the implementation of various waste diversion projects that aim at recovering energy from the currently landfilled waste. Partnering with the government, private sector and citizens, be’ah is committed to creating a waste management eco-system which will contribute to the nation, its people and serve as a benchmark in the region.
Could you comment on the proposed Reuse Centre to be set up at SQU premises?
Eng. Tariq: As part of its sustainable waste management strategies, be’ah focuses on forming a pre-disposal waste diversion mindset among the public by promoting the concept of 3Rs ‘Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’. The plan for establishment of a joint ‘Reuse Center’ in collaboration with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) is in line with this strategy. By setting up the Reuse Centre at SQU we explore opportunities to promote its sustainable development culture and practices within the campus community.
According to the outcomes of the meeting held with SQU on 30th May, 2017, it was agreed that this initiative, which will be the first of its kind in the entire GCC region, will encourage university staff and students to be actively involved in waste reduction and minimization activities. The Reuse Center will provide environmental, financial, economic and social benefits for all stakeholders involved and will become a centralized hub promoting sound environmental practices across the country.
Could you explain the scope of work of the proposed Reuse Centre?
Eng. Tariq: The Reuse Center will be built and located in SQU. The project will include construction and design of the Reuse Center which will comprise of item receiving and sorting areas, item repair facilities, item display area and staff offices. The Center will be managed by joint team from be’ah and SQU and will be run and operated by a third party. SQU staff and students will be encouraged to donate reusable items to the Center and to volunteer working at the Center and participate actively in SQU’s strategy for promoting sustainable development practices. The community too, are encouraged to donate items to the Reuse Center either directly or through charity organizations.
In what way, you think, that the Reuse Centre would be of benefit to SQU?
Eng. Tariq: In line with SQU’s drive towards sustainability and environmental stewardship, the Reuse Center will be of utmost importance to facilitate sustainability goals of the University. All departments within the campus have surplus items that are either kept, stored or disposed of. The ‘reuse seed’ if planted at SQU, will present an initial move towards sustainability on campus, which will grow into an integrated web-like flow of items throughout the university and beyond into the community. With effective campaigns, social media initiatives and awareness programs, the impact of the reuse activities within SQU will promote nation-wide practices of reuse and waste prevention.