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Mission Possible – Saudi giga project aims for ‘zero waste to landfill’

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A ribbon-cutting ceremony last month did more than just signal the formal opening of a waste treatment facility. It also marked a turning point for the future of green-friendly waste management in Saudi Arabia, as the country pushes forward with its sustainable development goals.

The recently unveiled facility was designed to handle all forms of waste generated via the construction of The Red Sea Project. With an active presence in the Kingdom and across the Gulf, international waste and recycling company Averda was given the responsibility to ensure sustainability and meet the developer’s ambitious pledge of “zero waste to landfill”.

The massive task ahead will see the sorting and treatment of thousands of tonnes of rubble and concrete generated by the construction of foundations, buildings, and infrastructure. Special machinery on-site will be used to transform rubble into smaller particles, which will then be processed for other purposes including gravel for the construction of roads and highways.

Phase one of the highly anticipated Red Sea giga project will see the construction of 16 luxury hotels across five islands and two inland resorts.

The flagship development is also set to include a new international airport, leisure and lifestyle facilities, as well as expansive logistics and utility infrastructure, including more than 80km of new roads.

All forms of waste generated during each phase of the project have been carefully considered and calculated into the running of the on-site waste treatment plants.

Already, dedicated recycling bins are currently provided across the workforces accommodation complexes, with glass, plastics, and cans collected separately.

Organic matter and waste will provide compost for the dedicated million-square-meter landscape nursery built for the project. The facility will eventually provide over 15 million plants required to landscape the region.

‘We talk of waste management, but here, nothing is being wasted. The easy answer could have been that zero waste to landfill is impossible, especially in the emerging world, especially in a new development that does not have the tradition to divert waste…’

‘…The right answer however was there. We need to do it because we are building something different, something that will be a guide and benchmark for future development in Saudi Arabia and beyond’ said Averda’s CEO Malek Sukkar.

After processing, only a small fraction of non-recyclable, non-compostable materials will remain. In order to avoid landfill and meet the TRSDC sustainability commitments, residual waste is treated in environmentally sensitive facilities which capture the particles and carbon generated. The remaining matter is to be used in the manufacturing of bricks.

In line with the Vision 2030 National Transformation Program (NTP), the ‘zero waste to landfill’ pledge demonstrates the Kingdom’s commitment to reducing all types of pollution.

The overarching necessity behind the facility will allow construction sites along the pristine Red Sea Coast access to channels of repurposing and recycling that set a new benchmark for further large-scale development projects in the Kingdom.

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