The Government of Oman has taken critical steps towards privatisation of waste management score in the country. This initiative included the establishment of fully owned holding company "be'ah" to enhance and upgrade the current services through setting up proper facilities for managing wastes including engineered landfills and transfer station facilities.
Traditionally, waste management has focused on landfilling. However, our natural resources and landfill capacity are limited. The solid waste management hierarchy ranks methods for waste management in order of preference:
Municipal solid waste (MSW), commonly known as trash, garbage, refuse or rubbish is a waste type consisting of everyday household items that are discarded by the public.
It generally includes food wastes, market wastes, yard & garden wastes, plastic containers and product packaging materials, and other miscellaneous solid wastes from residential premises which should be placed in or next to community waste collection bins or containers (not litter-bins).
Household type wastes from commercial, institutional, and industrial sources is collected using the special collection bins where separate storage & segregated collection is not practicable.
Municipal solid waste includes household bulky items and recyclable materials which may involve a scheduled separate pick-up according to the requirements of the collection service provider.
Municipal solid waste does not include industrial wastes, agricultural, farm or stockyard wastes, medical waste, radioactive waste, construction & demolition waste, grounds maintenance waste and other solid wastes where the municipality has previously played no part in either the collection or disposal arrangements.
1. MSW Operation
The functional element of the waste collection service includes not only the gathering of solid waste and recyclable materials, but also the transport of these materials, after collection, to the location where the collection vehicle is emptied. This location may be a materials processing facility, a transfer station or a landfill disposal site. The following figure shows the lifecycle of the waste stream as it applies to Oman.
MSW collection is an important aspect in maintaining public health in cities around the world. The general practice operated in Oman that generators of MSW take their garbage to community bins that are placed at fixed points in a neighborhood or locality and picked up by the services provider, according to a set schedule.
It is be’ah aim to progressively introduce recycling which may include household participation in separation certain materials at sources and depositing them at communal banks or presenting for doorstep collection; but these are future initiatives for which public information will be provided in due course.
Transfer stations are centralized facilities where waste is unloaded from smaller collection vehicles and re-loaded into larger vehicles for transport to a disposal or processing site. It is an engineered structured facility designed to receive mixed municipal wastes from normal refuse collection vehicles and discharge it into large semi-trailers trucks for more economical shipment to distant treatment or disposal sites. The facility is also designed to receive bulky waste including used tyres & Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste that are handled separately by special containers and then transported to its final destination for processing or treatment.
Transfer and transportation systems vary significantly among transfer stations, however the system which has been adopted in Oman consist of the following components:
A receiving area / Hopper where waste collection vehicles discharge their loads into Semi Trailers.
Transportation equipment, typically Semi Trailers, Hook lift systems, Open top Containers and Prime movers.
Mobile or stationary green waste shredder machine (optional)
Structured unloading bay(s)
Rainfall protection and drainage channel (internal and external rains)
Operation management office building
Weighbridge system and control room
Designated area for used tyres
Designated area for C&D waste
Currently, waste is collected from communal bins and dumped at open yards that does not resembled any form of engineered and environmentally accepted solution. At the dumpsites where there is no protection layer for underlying soil and groundwater; the potential of natural resources contamination increases. It will also become point source for contamination where the threat of contaminates will travel and affect other sources through groundwater as well as soil. The same also applies to smoke from burning the waste and elements resulted from the burn are categorized as dangerous for human health including dioxins, Sox, Nox etc.
Further, flies and rodents could be found easily at the dumpsites where they can source their food, eventually these can spread the diseases.
Despite smaller size of development, transfer stations play major roles in optimizing waste collection and treatment services in a more economical way. The direct benefits from having a transfer station is to overcome the issues of having waste stockpiled in open yards, hence closing all dumping sites and preventing the risk of spreading diseases. Therefore we can summaries the value added benefits of the transfer stations as follows:
Open dumping of waste in Oman has been the predominant practice all over the country. Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be'ah) wasfounded to change the situation from open dumpsites to engineered landfills.
The number of registered dumpsites in Oman is around 348. The illegal dumping of waste is also common around the country and increases the total number of dumpsites to around 1000. Both active and closed dumpsites must be evaluated in terms of the potential and extent of environmental impacts and risks on human health. Some of the dumpsites are very small in area and in remote locations. This evaluation of the dumpsites is referred to as Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). Based on the results from ESA studies, a rehabilitation action plan will be decided upon and implemented for each assessed dumpsite. Rehabilitation in this context means to upgrade a dumpsite and convert it into a sanitary landfill or close it after installing proper leachate and gas collection systems.