Municipal solid waste management in Kuwait

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is more commonly known as trash or garbage that consists of everyday items that we use and then throw away such as paper, yard trimmings, food, plastics, wood, metals, rubbers, inorganic waste and textiles. The management of MSW appears as a challenge for many countries in the world. The rapidly increasing amount of waste and the consequent potential impacts necessitate proper planning and management. Kuwait, is among the highest per capita waste generators in the world due to population and economic growth. The per capita MSW is relatively high reaching 1.5 kg/capita per day as the average global per capita is 0.74 kg/capita per day [6].

Figure 1. Volume of municipal waste produced in Kuwait (2014-2019), by type (in tons) [1].


Figure 2. Per capita waste generation in the GCC countries, 2017 [6]

The common method of solid waste disposal in Kuwait is land filling. There are 18 landfills, of which 14 sites are closed. However, the four sites still in operation are causing various environmental issues (Mina Abdullah, Al-Jahra, Seventh Ring Road and South 7th ring road). Unfortunately, there is not one landfill that met the criteria of a sanitary landfill as all the waste was dumped into random holes. The landfill site was utilized without any engineering measures to stop leaching. There was no monitoring of the decomposed gases nor was there any system to remove the gases. Selecting the right location has a huge impact on the environment, human health and the value of the surrounding areas. Dumping waste in an improper manner is a waste of money and resources and could cause problems especially when these landfills are close to residential areas. Impacts such as the release of a huge amount of toxic gases including methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, hexane and volatile organic hydrocarbons that can pollute groundwater, air and soil. Flares and spontaneous fires are also caused due to the ignition of methane gas emissions. In addition, odours and severe public health issues. The Environment Public Authority in Kuwait stated that the country’s total Carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) in 2000 were 1170 Gg of CO2e [2].

Figure 3. Some photos for Mina Abdulla landfill [3].

It was also pointed out that there only few recycling companies that are active in Kuwait, dealing with a small portion of the discarded materials, as the waste recycling concept is relatively new in Kuwait [5].

Figure 4. Comparison of waste disposal methods [1]

Kuwait’s Environmental Protection Law No. 42 was enacted in 2014 and its executive regulation in 2017. According to the law, new recycling facilities will be constructed in addition to a waste to energy plant. Additionally, the Kuwait Environment Public Authority has conducted several awareness campaigns to raise the public awareness towards waste sorting and recycling [3].

In addition, the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) plans to develop a solid waste treatment project at Kabd area and is expected to have a capacity to treat approximately 50% of total municipal solid waste produced in Kuwait. The facility will burn waste to produce energy and electricity [1]. However, the project is still under construction and updates are not clear.

In my opinion, it is necessary to focus on the 4 R's strategy as it is an inclusive approach for a sustainable solid waste management. The 4 R's strategy consists of:

  • Reduce:

Reducing waste is the easiest and most important thing we can do. The idea is to consume less, which results in less waste produced. By reducing waste, we avoid the unnecessary use of resources and consume less.

  • Reuse:

Reuse refers to using items repeatedly, either for the same purpose or for other purposes.

  • Recycle:

Recycling involves some form of reprocessing waste materials to produce another product.

  • Recover:

Recover refers to converting non-recyclable waste materials into energy or useable materials, such as compost. In addition, turning the waste to energy such as usable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas recovery.


In conclusion, a holistic approach to waste management must be implemented by preparing proper waste management strategies, strict waste management laws, environmental laws and recycling laws. Sending these waste materials to landfills is inefficient and wastes an opportunity to reproduce the materials into other useful raw materials to serve other purposes. With proper initiatives, Kuwait has the potential to become an environmental leader in the Gulf region.

References:

1. KDIPA. n.d. Investment Opportunities. [online] Available at: https://www.kdipa.gov.kw/en/investments-2/

2. Environment Public Authority, 2019. State Of Kuwait Second National Communication. [online] Www4.unfccc.int. Available at: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/NationalReports/Documents/94235106_Kuwait-NC2-2-KUWAIT%20SNC%20%20final%20v2.pdf

3. Al Lahou, A. and Alsabbagh, M., 2019. Assessment Of Municipal Solid Waste Management In The State Of Kuwait. [online] Available at: http://www.ijesd.org/vol10/1145-D752.pdf

4. Alsulaili, A., AlSager, B., Albanwan, H., Almeer, A. and AlEssa, L., 2014. International Proceedings of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering.

5. Global-recycling.info. 2017. Kuwait: More Additional Waste Management Facilities Needed. [online] Available at: https://global-recycling.info/archives/2627

6. Bhargava, A., n.d. GCC Solid Waste Management: A Problem Of Plenty - GPCA. [online] GPCA. Available at: https://www.gpca.org.ae/2018/05/29/gcc-solid-waste-management-a-problem-of-plenty

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