Turning waste into gold
Municipalities around the country are still looking for sustainable solutions for waste management and treatment. For years Saudi Arabia has witnessed rapid industrialization with high population growth, which has resulted in increased levels of pollution and waste. All types of waste management are still a challenge every day.
Saudi Arabia is the largest waste generator in the region. Riyadh city alone, which is as large as Lebanon with a grandiose master plan to become a financial and business regional hub for multinational companies, will add to the statistics of waste management potential — especially with its plan to increase its population to 20 million during the next decade. Another contributor to the statistics will be the waste generated by the future giga-projects in tourism and entertainment.
To address this growing and alarming challenge, waste management was part of the Saudi vision master plan. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) had established the Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC) to develop, own, operate and invest in various activities across all waste types in the Kingdom, including state-of-the-art treatment and recycling facilities and waste-to-energy solutions.
In addition, SIRC will act as an enabler in the waste management sector by creating opportunities for local and international investors to participate in companies across all waste streams and value chains with proven and scalable technologies.
Ahead of his time, more than 20 years ago, my father, through his company Al-Joman for Environment, partnered with an American company that produced microorganism/enzyme formulas to treat solid waste, animal manures and polluted shores with oil spells. Back then there were no laws to regulate these issues. The easiest solution to get rid of these types of waste was to throw them untreated in landfills outside major cities or in the open seas.
Last year, BMG Financial Group was appointed by HTCycle, a leading German-based waste management technology company, to set up its Saudi-based operations for future waste management treatment plants across the country in coordination with the Ministry of Investment.
HTCycle is the first of its kind waste management solution that transforms agricultural waste (biomass) and sewage sludge (mixed waste) into a profitable, environmentally safe process. HTCycle is in the last phase of getting its license and planning to start its operation this month.
With all these fast development projects in the country and a noticeable population increase, the waste management sector will provide promising opportunities for local and international investors.
At the Saudi-German joint-business meeting in Berlin last year with the finance minister, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, heading the Saudi delegation, the CEO of HTCycle, Uwe Kuhnle, gave a brief introduction about his company’s technology. He caught the attention of the minister when he said “We can turn waste into gold.” I think he is correct.
• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.