Waste management top priority for countries

Social media is buzz with the topic of food waste and refuse in Oman. Some estimates put the annual value of food waste at RO 45 million ($117 million), whereas figures issued by Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be’ah) indicate that the annual value of food waste exceeds RO 50 million ($130 million) based on the cost calculation of one kilo at nearly 100 baisa, and that most of this food is disposed of as waste.
This issue not only affects the Sultanate, but also the rest of the GCC, along with some Arab and Islamic countries.
Some statistics issued by be’ah in 2013 to address this issue from various aspects indicate that food waste constitutes the largest proportion of refuse produced in the Sultanate.
It is estimated at 27 per cent of the total waste produced annually, followed by plastic materials at 21 per cent. Meanwhile, the company has ambitious targets to transform 60 per cent of waste generated from engineered landfills into recycled or energy products by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2030, which will benefit the
national economy.
Today, majority of the world’s waste management services is handled through monthly or annual payment, whereas these services are still government-subsidised in both the region and the Sultanate.
However, there are plans to impose fee on some services as per recommendations put forward in this regard by those responsible for the project over the past years.
The company stresses that all countries depend on one or a combination of sources to cover the cost of waste management, such as government subsidies, taxes or fees.
Moreover, a study conducted by be’ah indicates that the total cost of municipal waste management in the Sultanate ranges between RO 90 and 100 million per annum. These figures are old, and today the cost will be even higher.
In other words, the average cost of managing municipal waste (generated from households) is equivalent to RO 1.6 per capita/month, or RO 20 per annum.
Waste management anywhere in the world is a challenge for stakeholders due to its negative impact on public health and environment.
As the world’s population increases, so does the amount of waste generated by humans.
The per capita production of waste in the region is very high due to high per capita income.
In the Sultanate, the amount of waste per capita exceeds 1.5 kg per day, according to a study published by Eco Mena, which is among the highest in the world, while a high proportion of solid waste in Oman is recyclable.
Paper waste ranks top at 26 per cent, followed by plastic at 12 per cent, metal at 11 per cent, and glass at 5 per cent. All these wastes are highly recyclable so that there are no environmental and health issues in future.
This institution believes that solid waste management is a top priority for the Omani government, which has developed a strategy to solve the problem of waste management through modern projects carried out in this sector, either from landfills, waste transfer stations or treatment plants, but there are opportunities to invest more funds to the tune of RO 2.5 billion to develop a good waste management strategy.
The challenges are numerous and varied in terms of producing such wastes, especially solid, as governments and communities face major challenges brought by massive industrial growth in the region, and increasing foreign labour, resulting in the presence of large quantities of human waste and refuse.
This challenge requires clear framework and structure for the management of the waste sector in general, especially solid waste.