The opening of Enviroserve’s new electronic scrap recycling plant, ‘The Recycling Hub’, signifies a major shift in WEEE recycling in the UAE. The company’s advanced facility, based in one of the key business centres – Dubai Industrial Park, was officially launched on March 20, 2019. Stuart Fleming, Co- Founder and Group CEO, Enviroserve speaks to Swaliha Shanavas about the company’s sustainable business model and how the modern facility will change the game in the Middle East’s WEEE sector.
“We are happy to launch our new e-scrap recycling facility and to be part of Dubai Industrial Park whose support was invaluable to us to turn this vision into a reality. Utilising innovative green technology in this
iconic facility, we are confident this will be a true game-changer in electronic and specialised waste recycling for the
UAE and the wider Middle East, Africa and Caucasus region,” he says. The Recycling Hub, touted as the largest integrated electronic and specialised waste recycling facility in the world, houses four recycling divisions that are critical to the industry – WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment); ITAD (IT Asset Disposition); Specialised Waste (brand protection); Refrigerant Gas Recovery and Reclaim.
The constant need for data destruction services for businesses, government agencies and individuals continues to grow, says Fleming. “More than ever, people are looking to simply get rid of unwanted or outdated electronics in an environmentally responsible way that is also safe for digital data privacy. We are proud to be the leading provider of WEEE recycling and ITAD services here in the Middle East and Africa region.”
The new plant, which is spread over 280,000 sq. ft., will offer endto- end recycling services and has a processing capability of 100,000 tonnes of total integrated waste per annum, which includes 39,000 tonnes of e-scrap. “WEEE finally has a place that can process the materials from start to finish,” the CEO states.
The facility, which features stateof-the-art Swiss technology, can process the entire range of WEEE from consumer and industrial to commercial and military. These include air conditioners, batteries, computers, household appliances, mobile phones, and even military avionics, to name a few.
“The Recycling Hub offers a unique opportunity for clients to track their materials from collection, through processing, to recycling and, where appropriate, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) ensuring maximum recovery rates and minimising environmental impact,” he elaborates.
The recycling facility’s fully automated mechanical separation process is chemical-free with industrial air filtration, allowing for a 96% recovery rate with zero air and liquid emissions. “To put things into perspective, this means 38,000,000 kg of e-scrap will be kept out landfills each year,” says Fleming.
Another innovative aspect that also contributes to sustainability is that the integrated facility processes specialised scrap material such as aerosol cans, textiles and FMCG products, and “is the only dedicated refrigerant gas reclaim facility in the UAE.” It also handles toner cartridges, said to be the first in the MEA region.
The Dh120 million project is backed by the Swiss Government Export Finance Agency and represents one of the largest foreign direct investments in the field of environmental management to date in the UAE. Enviroserve’s green recycling facility will service international e-scrap recycling efforts across Africa, Middle East and Caucasus.
Further, The Recycling Hub is set to benefit from Dubai’s strategic location, progressive policies, as well as the Emirate’s intelligent infrastructure, notes Fleming. “In its turn, Dubai Industrial Park, a member of TECOM Group, works to attract and enable the success of strategic business partners, by virtue of its mandate to elevate Dubai’s profile as a global destination for advanced manufacturing and innovative-focused industries. All these factors will help contribute to developing and sustaining this sector in the long run.”
Unique one-stop-shop solution
What sets Enviroserve apart from other companies in the specific area of WEEE recycling is the fact that “there is nothing like The Recycling Hub in the Middle East and Africa in terms of size, capacity, and sophistication. It is truly a game-changer and many multinational companies have been eagerly awaiting the launch,” the CEO highlights. The company can process the e-scrap from customer to refinery, “which is unique in this region and one of only a handful in the world.” In his view, a vast majority of companies in the Middle East are collectors, segregators, basic processors, or a combination of these, meaning that materials are changing hands several times in the process. “Enviroserve can compete cost-effectively by offering a fully-automated, one-stop-shop solution for residential, commercial, and industrial clients,” he adds.
Raw material sources
With regard to the raw material sources and main suppliers to enable efficient operations of a plant of this scale, the CEO says the company works with everyone from households to multinationals and from manufacturers to consumers. “In fact, we even work with many local recycling companies for the e-scrap processing requirements.”
Again, they are fully operational throughout Middle East, Africa and Caucasus, “which has been a major pain point for multinationals due to lack of professional recycling infrastructure in the region. Enviroserve has created the solution to this problem,” he explains.
Dynamics and project viability
So, what are the awareness levels and recovery rates in the Middle East and Africa with regard to WEEE? And will the supply match available capacity to ensure the viability of the project in the long run? Fleming opines that awareness has certainly increased over the last decade as to the dangers of WEEE and both local and international organisations are taking steps to control and manage this hazardous waste. “Our mission is to ‘Clean up Africa’ and it is a big part of our philosophy,” the CEO highlights. Exact recovery rates are currently unknown as it is not specifically tracked. “However, the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have taken steps, recently, to fill in this information gap by working with organisations like Enviroserve through their respective e-manifest systems,” he comments.
As per current estimates, the UAE generates over 100,000 tons of e-scrap per annum. Capture rates are not 100 percent. In fact, 30-60 percent is the typical rate, meaning that there is more than enough e-scrap in the UAE to keep The Recycling Hub busy, says Fleming, also adding that with Enviroserve facilities throughout Middle East, Africa and Caucasus, the company is an importer of e-scrap as well.
How does the present model contribute to circular economy and address the issue of diverting 75 percent waste away from landfills by 2021 and the ultimate goal of zero waste to landfill? Referring to their sophisticated technology, the CEO says they can process all categories of WEEE and recover 96 percent of the materials. “Circular economy
was a topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment attended. The Recycling Hub will help the UAE achieve its vision 2021 and future sustainability goals.”
On the key partnerships the company has formed to ensure the sustainability of the project, Fleming emphasises that they have continuously engaged with various stakeholders in the UAE’s public and private sector and pioneered innovative recycling solutions. In his view, infrastructure such as The Recycling Hub is “a critical competent of current and future legislation around environmental protection and solving the logistical challenges of the private sector.”
“Over the years, we have proudly served the UAE market, but with the launch of The Recycling Hub we have attracted multinationals who are seeking secure end-to-end solutions in a challenging region. One shining example is our recent partnership with Nespresso where we are supporting their Closing the Loop sustainability initiative,” he underlines.
The company, which has already started processing e-scrap for its partner EPSON, also announced during the launch event, a regional partnership with Lenovo to recycle and refurbish the latter’s electronic products.
ENVIROSERVE – KEY FACTS
Enviroserve, which started as a small home-grown company, has over the years evolved into a leading e-scrap recycling solutions provider in the region.
Key Executives: Chairman – Brian Wilkie; Group CEO – Stuart Fleming
Patron: Sheikh Mohammed bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Headquarters and branch offices: Dubai (HQ) with offices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola and Georgia
Employees: 75 (UAE)
Services offered: WEEE; IT Asset Disposition; Specialised Waste; Refrigerant Gas Recovery and Reclaim
Technology: Swiss technology
Processing Capacity: Over 100,000 tons per annum including 39,000 tons of e-scrap
The introduction of this innovative facility comes at a time when every year, some 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical scrap is produced globally, of which only 20 percent is formally recycled. According to a UN-sponsored project finding, the average UAE resident generates 17.2 kilograms of e-scrap every year, most of which contains harmful toxins, such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
“The new facility is the outcome of Enviroserve’s pioneering 15-year journey in the e-scrap industry and we look forward to elevating the sustainability movement in the region,” the CEO concludes.