PIF-owned SIRC targets zero-waste 'Circular Economy' by 2035

PIF-owned SIRC targets zero-waste 'Circular Economy' by 2035
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Updated 19 October 2021

PIF-owned SIRC targets zero-waste 'Circular Economy' by 2035

PIF-owned SIRC targets zero-waste 'Circular Economy' by 2035
  • Saudi Arabia produces 50 million tons of waste per year – and almost all of that ends up in landfills.

A long summer of floods, forest fires, and extreme heatwaves across the globe has led to the stark realization the wastefulness and pollution of mankind is having a calamitous impact upon both the climate and the environment. A consensus is growing amongst politicians and decision-makers that an entire new way of life must be found — not only for the sake of the planet but for the very survival of the human race.

This is the dire context of the forthcoming Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum, to be held in Riyadh in the last week of November. Under the patronage of HRH Mohammed Bin Salman, the forum “will unveil the SGI’s roadmap for delivery...spotlight the Kingdom’s green efforts…[and] drive action and spark innovative solutions to help tackle climate change.”

The KSA produces no less than 50 million tons of waste per year – and 95 percent of that ends up in landfills, poisoning the earth and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for decades to come. What is not buried is evident on the streets, in the form of discarded plastic bags, fast-food containers and empty soda cans.

The government of Saudi Arabia is now determined to reverse this negative scenario, in favor of a ‘circular economy’ based on zero waste — the driving concept being that every form of debris is the raw material for a fresh product or energy source. 

The leading agent of change in this respect is the Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC), which was established by Royal Decree in 2017, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund. 

“We are the executive arm behind the circular economy”, SIRC CEO Ziyad Al Shiha told Arab News. “We work with the local and global private sector, improving local technology, introducing best practices and creating jobs. This is part of the green initiative in Saudi Arabia, the green initiative of the Middle East and indeed the green initiative of the entire world.” 

The stated aim of SIRC is to reduce waste landfill from 100 percent today to effectively zero percent by 2035. “This will be an integrated approach”, says Al Shiha, “unlike the fragmented approach of the past.” 

SIRC’s overall recycling strategy is targeted at twelve separate elements of waste, including raw sewage, construction/demolition debris, solid municipal waste (i.e. garbage) and agricultural sludge. The remainder is a toxic cocktail of industrial effluent, end-of-life vehicles and batteries, old tires, automotive lubricants, disused electronic equipment and cooking oil. 

The only waste not covered by SIRC’s remit is that from the military and from nuclear energy, both of which are handled by more specialized bodies.

The circular economy offers vast opportunities in terms of products, energy creation and services — all of which will no doubt make a major contribution to the diversification of the Saudi economy away from oil and its derivatives, in line with Vision 2030.

One form of value-add is ‘waste-to-energy’, whereby garbage, raw sewage or industrial sludge can be dried and incinerated, for example to power steam turbines. SIRC recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Water Company to process raw sewage for just this purpose. The model here is the world's largest sludge treatment and energy recovery program, built by Veolia in Hong Kong. 

The burning of waste does release CO2, but surprisingly, leaving waste to decompose in a landfill will ultimately create 20-40 times more greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane, over a period of many years. 

Business opportunities also exist in the conversion of building debris into attractive new products. SIRC has built a massive construction waste processing facility in the north of Riyadh, where rubble is segregated and recycled into ballast for backfilling and landscaping, aggregate bricks for new constructions and raw steel that can be smelted into new beams and pipes. The facility is already up and running, with a potential processing capacity of 12,000 tons (400 truckloads) per day. 

These are both SIRC-led projects, but the circular economy will not happen without the active involvement of entrepreneurs and corporations. “We have a regulatory framework that allows us to move with the private sector in a very profitable way”, says Al Shiha. “The SIRC will buy and invest in companies, and establish joint ventures. We invite local, regional and global companies to come and talk to us to explore all options to move the circular economy forward.” 

SIRC offers an equity participation of 20-30 percent with a debt structure of 70-80 percent to both Saudi and non-Saudi companies with an interest in recycling and waste management; and according to Al Shiha, SAR120 billion will be invested in Saudi Arabia’s circular economy between now and 2035. 

Projects such as waste-to-energy are on a vast macro scale, involving billions of Riyals. But there is also plenty of room for SMEs providing more niche services such as dismantling and sorting of disused electrical equipment, or offering the broad range of consultancy services required for ‘smart’ waste management. 

The road to a fully circular economy is long and challenging. Saudi Arabia aims to surpass in 15 years what took most G20 economies 30 to 40 years to achieve. Even today, highly developed nations such as Japan, Germany and the UK are still far from being fully circular economies, even if they have all significantly stepped-up recycling and reduced their landfills over the past decades. 

A lot needs to be done in the Kingdom. There is currently no sorting of ‘waste at source’ – that is, the separation of rubbish from homes, supermarkets and factories. Currently one large bin can be seen outside houses and buildings. Before long there will be three bins: one for organic material (to be turned into compost or dried and burned for energy); one for dry recyclable material (metal, cans, plastic, glass and paper); and the third for ‘dirty wet’ material – for example baby diapers – which can also be incinerated to produce power.

Another pertinent issue is illegal practices, such as the black market in recycled plastic and paper and the careless dumping of construction debris. New regulations have been introduced in the last two months, to incriminate and penalize those who pollute the environment.

The good news is that Saudi Arabia can learn from the experience and knowledge of other countries. “We can start from where others have reached”, says Al Shiha. “We have to invest in the infrastructure, but equally we have to provide education and create outreach programs. 

“Once we achieve 25-35 percent recycling, we can say to the public: ‘Look, this is your effort. And this is the result that we're bringing back to you.’” That, it is hoped, will make recycling a way of life.

The goals of SIRC are hugely ambitious and will involve all sectors of Saudi society: every ministry, every municipality, every school and college and ultimately, every individual. 

But Al Shiha remains optimistic. “The youth of today is very progressive,” he says. “They love the environment, and they want to improve the quality of life. We're at a turning point now. The first step is to recognize and admit that you have a problem – and then implement all the systems and regulations, and invite people to participate. We as human beings need to play a very positive role, to be passionate and to contribute to the circular economy.”


China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs
Updated 13 sec ago

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

RIYADH: China plans to ban companies from going public on foreign stock markets through entities with different interests.

It will close a loophole that the country’s technology industry has long used to raise capital from foreign investors, according to Bloomberg.

People familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified while discussing private information, said the ban, aimed in part at addressing concerns about data security, is among the changes included in a new draft of China’s overseas listing rules that may be finalized as soon as this month. 

Companies using what is called the VIE (variable interest entity) structure would still be allowed to pursue initial public offerings in Hong Kong, subject to regulatory approval, the sources said.

VIE refers to a business structure in which an investor has a controlling interest despite not having a majority of voting rights. A business that is the primary beneficiary of a VIE must disclose the holdings of that entity as part of its consolidated balance sheet.

China Securities Regulatory Commission said on its website on Wednesday that a media report about banning offshore listings of companies using the VIE structure was incorrect, without giving further details.

Companies currently listed in the US and Hong Kong that use VIEs will need to make adjustments so that their ownership structures are more transparent in regulatory reviews, especially in sectors where foreign investment is prohibited, the sources added.

The reform would mark one of Beijing’s biggest moves to crack down on offshore listings. 

Authorities have since moved quickly to halt the flow of companies seeking to go public in the US, shutting down a path that has generated billions of dollars for tech companies and their Wall Street backers.

While a global ban on the VIE structure is not being contemplated, a halt to foreign listings and a further review of Hong Kong's initial public offerings will mean the model will not be a viable way for many startups to tap into the capital markets. 

A person familiar with the matter said that some investment banks had already been advised by regulators to stop working on new deals involving VIEs.

The demise of VIE would also threaten the lucrative business streak of Wall Street banks, which has helped nearly 300 Chinese companies raise around $82 billion through first-time share sales in the US over the past ten years.

VIEs have been a constant source of concern for global investors due to their unstable legal position. Sina Corp. and its investment bankers led the way during an initial public offering in 2000, and the VIE framework has not been formally adopted by Beijing.

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO
Updated 8 min 50 sec ago

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

RIYADH: Saudi’s investment group SEDCO Holding has appointed Rayyan Mohammed Nagadi as its new chief executive officer, replacing Hasan Aljabri.

The appointment, announced on Wednesday, comes as the group is expanding its investment and economic growth contribution in the Kingdom. 

Before joining SEDCO Holding, Nagadi was the CEO of the National Center for Privatization & PPP, with over 20 years of experience in management and structured financing in both the public and private sectors. 

“With his expertise and extensive network, he is well positioned to accelerate our ambitions as a partner of choice supporting the government in achieving the goals of Vision 2030,” chairman of SEDCO, Saleh Salem Bin Mahfouz, said.

Through its subsidiaries, SEDCO Holding provides investment and construction services.

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization
Updated 15 min 22 sec ago

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

RIYADH: Soudah Development, a closed joint-stock real estate development company owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, became an affiliate member of the World Tourism Organization – the United Nations agency responsible for promoting tourism as a key driver of economic growth and environmental sustainability, it said in a statement.

As an affiliate member of the UNWTO, Soudah Development will be able to work with more than 500 global companies, educational and research institutions, destinations, and NGOs. It will provide a platform to establish dialogue, share information and take further action to promote tourism and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It becomes only the 25th company in the Middle East to join an alliance of more than 500 global members and joins some of Saudi Arabia’s leading tourism destination developers including NEOM, Qiddiya, the Red Sea Development Company, and the Royal Commission for Alula.

Husameddin Almadani, CEO of Soudah Development (Right)

Soudah Development is developing a luxury mountain destination in a unique and authentic setting among the clouds at 3015 meters above sea level.  Its sensitive sustainable quality development strategy is fully aligned with its goals of protecting natural environments and wildlife, empowering local communities and showcasing the extraordinary centuries old culture and heritage in Soudah and parts of Rijal Almaa.

Husameddin Almadani, CEO of Soudah Development, said: “Building powerful and effective partnerships with like-minded organizations is an important part of our ongoing efforts to create a luxury mountain tourism destination high above the clouds.”

“We are delighted and enormously proud to have already achieved this exciting and prestigious affiliate membership of the UNWTO.  It is the latest in a series of strategic ties we have established with local, regional and global stakeholders to further our goals. It demonstrates our commitment to operate according to the highest global standards and working with the best in the business in Saudi Arabia and internationally and position Soudah and Rijal Almaa as a year-round destination that will attract more than two million visitors throughout the year by 2030.”


Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA
Updated 41 min 9 sec ago

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Jeddah: Renewable energy will make up 95 percent of total global power capacity growth in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol said when it comes to renewables, solar power plays the most significant role.

“Solar is the new king of the global power markets,” he said.

About 55 percent of all power plants installed in the world will be solar, and while all countries will increase their renewable facilities, the lion’s share will be in China and India, he highlighted.

“These two giants account for about half of the entire renewable capacity installations,” he said, adding: “China, especially driven by solar power, alone provides about 40 percent of the global growth.”

One of IEA’s concerns is the high commodity prices, which will also result in an increase in renewable energy prices.

Birol added that India is well in line with the 500 gigawatt target, as mentioned at the COP26. 

He also said the southern Asian country is witnessing a huge growth in biofuels, and in the next five years the IEA expects India to become the third largest market in the world after the US and Brazil.

“Even though we are breaking a record in renewables transition, we still need to double that pace in order to be in line with our renewable targets as well as our net zero targets,” he said.

Electric cars are estimated today to amount to 10 percent of all the cars sold this year, compared to 2 percent in 2019.

Pointing to the two-year jump regarding renewable energy and electric cars, the executive director said: “We can clearly say that a new global energy system is emerging.”

Saudi tourism minister urges global coordination to tackle omicron

Saudi tourism minister urges global coordination to tackle omicron
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi tourism minister urges global coordination to tackle omicron

Saudi tourism minister urges global coordination to tackle omicron

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister on Wednesday called for a coordinated international response to omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus.

“The lesson of the pandemic is that we need more international coordination and a greater recognition of the critical role of tourism in our economies,” Ahmed Al-Khateeb wrote on his official Twitter account. 

The minister called on the UN’s World Tourism Organization to address the latest strain. He also warned against the new variant’s impact on the Kingdom’s tourism sector. 

“Over the last few months, I have met with more than 100 tourism ministers (from around the world), and we share a consensus that the sector needs stronger support and international coordination,” he added. 

Saudi Arabia confirmed its first case of omicron on Wednesday. A passenger coming from a North African country was tested positive for the new strain.