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Bee’ah furthers UAE sustainability aims with new partnerships

Bee’ah, the Middle East’s sustainability pioneer, signed MoUs with Unilever Gulf, one of the region’s leading suppliers of beauty and personal care, home care, and foods and refreshment products and UAE-based startup Seramic Materials Ltd, a pioneer in sustainable ceramics made from recycled materials, at the World Future Energy Summit during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2020.

Given Bee’ah’s expertise in waste management and recycling, the partnership with Unilever supports the UAE Vision 2021 which targets to divert waste from landfills. It also supports Unilever’s latest sustainability commitments that seek to reduce its plastic waste and help create a circular economy for plastics. This is in addition to ensuring that Unilever’s plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable while it aims to use at least 25 percent recycled plastic in its packaging – all by 2025.

“Bee’ah is leading the charge for sustainability and a circular economy in the UAE. This agreement with Unilever addresses plastic pollution through a holistic approach and how Bee’ah can become a strategic partner that supports companies with their environmental, social and governance targets,” said H.E. Khaled Al Huraimel, Bee’ah Group Chief Executive Officer. “As we continue to introduce innovations that facilitate sustainable living in the UAE and the region, we welcome the chance to work with other companies and industries to tackle challenges in a collaborative manner.”

“At Unilever, we believe that our packaging is our responsibility and while plastic has its place, that place is not in the environment. We are therefore committed to collecting back more than we sell, in order to ensure the development of a circular economy locally and are delighted to partner with Bee’ah on this important agenda,” said Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice President of Unilever MENA, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus & Turkey.

“This supports the larger commitment we made in 2010 as a part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan towards decoupling our environmental footprint from our growth. A circular economy ensures that the economic value of plastic is not lost whilst also creating new opportunities for increased economic activity through the creation of new business.”

Both companies will explore the use of reverse vending machines to help collect plastic waste. Launched in 2011, Bee’ah’s RVMs have been a successful community development project that encourages UAE residents to leave a positive impact on the environment.

Bee’ah and Unilever will also undertake feasibility studies to jointly invest in a new plastic recycling facility, with the capacity to recycle plastic waste and produce 14,400 tonnes of recycled high-density polyethylene and polypropylene annually.

Closing the loop, Unilever will be able to purchase the produced post-consumer resin to incorporate in its product packaging.

In addition to the plastic waste collection and recycling efforts, Bee’ah and Unilever will aim to collaborate towards the implementation of a community awareness outreach initiative.

This involves co-developing educational content to be added on the Bee’ah School of Environment platform – which has a reach of over 250,000 students, 5,000 teachers and 1000 registered users – and to include a new category of recyclables as part of the BSOE’s Interschool Recycling Competition.

Plastic pollution has become a global waste crisis. Around 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics are produced globally, of which 75.9 percent become waste and only 9 percent is recycled, according to an American Association for the Advancement of Science study in 2017.

If present trends continue, the study’s authors forecast around 12 billion metric tons of plastic will end up in landfills by 2050.

Through their other newly agreed partnership with Seramic Materials, they plan to explore solutions to extract value out of any solid residue waste as a result of incineration – such as bottom ash and fly ash – generated at Emirates Waste to Energy (EWTE) Company’s first project, Sharjah Waste to Energy plant. Both companies stand to benefit from each other’s expertise, initiatives and working procedures to enable the UAE’s circular economy and zero-waste-to-landfills target upon the completion of Sharjah Waste to Energy Plant, the first facility of Bee’ah and Masdar’s joint venture, Emirates Waste to Energy Company.

Commenting on the strategic collaboration, HE Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah and Chairman of Emirates Waste to Energy Company, said, “Bee’ah believes that collaboration and co-creation with partners can help solve some of the region’s greatest environmental challenges – in this case, that is closing the loop for waste management. By adopting a holistic approach to sustainability, we are leading the charge in the UAE towards a truly zero-waste solution and a circular economy, in which we reinvent and innovate new products made by waste.”

Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Co-founder and CEO, Seramic Materials, stated: “Once the two UAE incinerators are operational, MSWI ash will rapidly become a major mineral waste in the UAE by quantity produced with about 800,000 tons per year, ranking MSWI ash as third just after demolition concrete and alumina red mud. By collaborating with Bee’ah now, we are anticipating and providing viable solutions for this foreseeable waste management issue. As soon as the waste-to-energy plant begins to generate ash, Seramic Materials will be ready to transform it into valuable products. This partnership demonstrates visionary leadership of the UAE and the Group CEO of Bee’ah. The solution developed for EWTE is applicable all over the world.”

Seramic Materials has developed a unique patented solution to recycle industrial solid waste into sustainable and affordable value-added ceramic products.The company has worked with The Catalyst, a Masdar-BP initiative, to build a laboratory at The Tech Park in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi (UAE) to showcase their patented waste integration technology.This is the first laboratory located in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) dedicated to transformation and up-cycling of locally produced industrial solid waste into value-added products, helping to drive industry within the region towards a near-zero waste approach.

Through EWTE’s new plant in Sharjah, more than 300,000 tons of municipal solid waste will be diverted from landfill each year, contributing to Sharjah's effort to become a zero-waste city by 2021. The facility converts waste into produced heat which is then used to drive a turbine and generate up to 30MW of electricity to power up to 28,000 homes. The flue gas of the waste processing will be environmentally treated before being released into the atmosphere, while the incinerator will burn all municipal solid waste, leaving behind combustion residue – 25 percent of the original mass will remain as bottom ash and approximately 2.5 percent is fly ash – which Seramic Materials will use in the manufacturing of new products.