Municipal solid waste management is one of the most serious challenges faced by Qatar. The high rate of population growth, urbanization, migration, industrial growth and economic expansion has led to tremendous increase in solid waste generation in the region. Interestingly, per capita solid waste generation in Qatar is one of the highest worldwide.
Solid Waste in Qatar
Municipal solid waste is the largest waste stream in Qatar. The country produces more than 2.5 million tonnes of municipal solid waste each year, corresponding to per capita MSW generation of 1.5kg per person per day.
As per recent studies, the generation of municipal solid waste in Qatar is as high as 7,000 tons per day. Solid waste is mainly comprised of organic materials (around 60 percent) while the rest of the waste steam is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics.
Municipalities are responsible for solid waste collection in Qatar both directly, using their own logistics, and indirectly through private sector contract. Waste collection and transport is carried out by a large fleet of trucks that collect MSW from thousands of collection points scattered across the country. The predominant method of solid waste disposal is landfilling.
The collected waste is discharged at various transfer stations from where it is sent to the landfill. There are three landfills in Qatar; Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste, Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste, and Al-Krana for sewage wastes. However, the method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited.
Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre
Taking a serious note of the dangers posed by urban wastes, the Qatar government has established an integrated Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) in Mesaieed with investment of more than USD 2billion. DSWMC is designed to maximize recovery of resources and energy from waste by installing state-of-the-art technologies for separation, pre-processing, mechanical and organic recycling, and waste-to-energy and composting technologies.
The facility, designed to treat 1550 tons of waste per day, will generate enough power to run the plant’s various machinery and meet the demands of the complex, and supply a surplus of 34.4 MW to national power grid. The pioneering project is set to propel Qatar as a leading country in integrated solid waste management.
The Way Forward
While commendable steps are being undertaken to handle solid waste, the Government should also strive to enforce strict waste management legislation and create mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives.
When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the solid waste management facility plant at Mesaieed was a laudable solution, but its capacity has been overwhelmed by the time the project was completed. Qatar needs a handful of such centers to tackle the burgeoning garbage disposal problem.
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