Global Opportunities

Saudia Arabia: Looking for waste-management-solutions

Waste, and getting rid of it in a manner that makes sense for the economy and the environment, is an issue that has recently been getting much more attention in Saudi Arabia. Waste volumes are rising, as a result of rapid urbanisation combined with some long-standing societal issues around general wastefulness, which makes this a serious and ongoing problem. The Saudi government is therefore looking for solutions, which provides opportunities for Swiss companies in the sector of waste management.

Recycling station for PET-bottles

Governments aims to tackle the waste problem

Backed by ambitious yet achievable overall targets for diverting waste away from landfill sites, the Saudi government is willing to do more about waste management in both the private and public sectors. As governments aim to crack down on waste, this has led to a flurry of recent announcements regarding new legislation and initiatives to tackle the problem through a variety of innovative means.

Innovative measures as a soltuion to the waste problem

 While some of these measures involve greater education and support for recycling in the home, many of them are in direct support of Cleantech investments and the exploration of innovative new green waste management solutions. Saudi Arabia as the largest waste generator in the region (15 million metric tonnes a year that will double by 2033). Much of Saudi Arabia’s solid waste is food and organic, followed by paper and plastics. It is worth mentioning that municipal solid waste is collected from individual or community containers and disposed of in landfills or dumpsites.

Recycling still at an early stage

Recycling, reuse and energy recovery are still at an early stage, although they are getting increased attention. Waste sorting and recycling are driven by an active informal sector. Recycling activities are mostly manual and labour intensive. Composting is also gaining increased interest in Saudi Arabia due to the high organic content of MSW (around 40%).

Responding to this growing issue, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is planning to create the Saudi Recycling Company (SRC), a waste management body that will be empowered to set up and support domestic recycling projects across the country. Currently, Saudi Arabia only recycles around 10% of its waste, the government aims through the SRC to increase this ratio to hit 85% as part of its national strategy called Vision 2030. The government wants to develop 3GW of waste-to-energy facilities by 2030, to manage Saudi Arabia’s solid waste, contribute to its base load electricity and to diversify its energy. This development provides an excellent opportunity for Swiss companies in the cleantech- and waste-management-sector.

If you wish to know more about the opportunity specifically or doing business in Saudi Arabia in general, please don’t hesitate to contact Ruedi Büchi, consultant Middle East.


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