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Recycling in Kuwait to reduce pollution and promote sustainable use of resources.



Recycling is the process of re-using old or waste material into new products. Recycling has become a popular way to keep conserve and protect the environment, to reduce energy consumption, protect the ozone layer, preserve natural resources like plutonium, reduce pollution and promote sustainable use of resources. With the increase in global sensitivity about pollution and how the radioactive waste has destroyed the ozone layer and the environmental impact of the destruction, there has been increase need to recycle waste and old material into reusable products. And the waste in the landfills too need to be divide according to type of waste to enable easy identification of the material that can be recycled and the material that can rot and be fertilizer.

Solid waste management is a huge global concern. The GCC has countries with the largest solid waste output in the world, being among the richest countries Kuwait produces about 120 million tons of solid waste each year. High standards of living and the rapid economic growth have been the major causes of the high solid waste dispensation of about 1.5kg of solid waste per capita daily.

Kuwait has an astonishing number of landfills which are used to hold the large number of solid waste. There are 18 landfills but 14 have been closed and four are still in operation. These landfills have been causing Kuwait notorious health and environmental problems because the produce dangerous gasses like methane and are therefore plagued with large fires. Due the vast urban development residents have moved to the edges of the landfills causing danger to the public health

Kuwait is about 17,830sq km in size with about 18sq km covered with landfills. Hundreds of hectares are filled with these wastes. About 90% of domestic waste is sent to these mines implying that more and more landfills will be required for these wastes. All kinds of waste are sent into these landfills: domestic, municipal, food residue and plastics all are dumped together in these land fill indiscriminately.

Most landfills in the past 20 years have been close due to the close proximity to the residents and the operation problems. The landfill have been closed before reaching their due usability mostly because of the poor disposal methods and the health problems they cause the residents and the fires they bring especially for the hundreds of residents who live on the edges of the landfills.

With the high population growth and the large number of waste being deposited daily, the landfills will soon be too many to manage and this will bring even more health problems for the people of Kuwait. Authorities estimate that the needed technology to contain the waste problem in Kuwait will take KD 70 million.

The Director General of Kuwait Municipality, Ahmad Al-Sebeeh, estimated the domestic recycle at KD 100million per year. This shows that with waste recycling Kuwait can gain a huge amount of profit and preserve the environment while   taking care of its peoples health. According to Kuwait Times, the World Bank has warned that Kuwait is among the highest solid waste producers in the world.

In the city of Sulaibiya, there exists a landfill that contains over 70million tyres. The landfill is so huge and contains so many wheels it can be seen from space. It is said that the tyres are not from Kuwait only because there is a company that charges other countries substantial amounts of money to dump the wheels there too. The landfill is so hazardous in April 2012 there was a huge fire at a tire dump near Al Jahrah that scientist suspect was fueled by over 5 million tyres. The fire was so big hundreds of fire fighters, soldiers and employees of the Kuwait oil company all assisted each other to put out the fire. A month later there was another fire at Amghara scrapyard which took fire fighters from four different stations to contain the fire. Tyre fires are difficult to put out because they cause a lot of smoke which often carries toxic gases from the rubber compounds (daily mail reporter, p 1)

These landfills are becoming hazardous because:

  • When the rain water falls on the uncontained open grounds with the waste, it mixes with substances in the garbage dump like battery acid and chemical solvents from home detergents and industrial chemicals. The water mixture (leachate) then soaks into the soil and the underground water and the chemicals are then transferred to people and animals.
  • There is only so much land in the earth for landfills to be constructed every 1.1million tons of solid waste. Hence the landfills idea is really unsustainable.
  • The cost of constructing landfills, treating the water leachate and lining systems to prevent leachate are very expensive.
  • As a health issue to both people and animals, even if the leachate does not soak into the soil and water underneath, it can cause health problems since the water forms pools from which birds can drink and occasionally the poor people go to the landfills to look for food which is contaminated by the chemicals.
  • Not forgetting how aesthetically displeasing site these landfills are and how they produce horrible smells to those around them.(George Scott, p1)
  • The fires that occasionally visit the sites can cause major harm to those living around them if not contained soon enough.
  • Methane gas produced has been found to trap more of the sun’s hit than carbon dioxide causing plants to die of too much of the sun heat.

Recycling is also a problem because in Kuwait it not possible to fund the recycling project with taxes and tipping because the tipping charges at the landfills are low and the transport costs are dependent on the landfill location. This means that any recycling company must compete with any company in the market and must produce products as good in quality are those produced not through recycling.



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