Earlier in August, Averda – a global waste management organisation – was awarded a new city cleaning contract, covering Al Mizhar, Al Muhaisnah and Nadd Al Hamar districts in Dubai. This came after the company participated in the international tenders that were launched by Dubai Municipality. Oussama Natour, Managing Director, Averda UAE, says, “In Dubai, we do more than city cleaning - we support Dubai Municipality in reaching its objectives under the ‘My City, My Environment’ programme. We have launched two of the GCC’s first recycling centres in the city and partnered with Uber Dubai this summer, while also celebrating Earth Day by collecting and sending for recycling/disposal residents’ unwanted electronic waste.”
Averda believes in the importance of fostering a constant dialogue with its clients, partners and beneficiaries of its services – the company not only cleans the streets and collects waste but also tries to raise the awareness of how important recycling and reusing are – it is important to minimise the quantity of waste that is sent for landfilling, and that can be easily achieved if every stakeholder in the city recycles and reduces waste.
The before and after
Being the financial and business heart of the UAE and also the country’s famous international tourism destination, Dubai was never what would be classed as a dirty or polluted city – far from it, avers Natour. As an important political, commercial and tourism hub for the region, Dubai sits at the forefront of technological and financial transactions of GCC, and the city cleaning and waste management services deployed, before Averda came on board, were not as modern or technology intensive as they could have been.
The company has brought cutting-edge cleaning technologies to the city, with novel and less labour intensive practices such as employing mechanical sweepers on the streets of Dubai to reach different kinds of roads; use of special cranes to aid labourers in bulky waste collection; solar panels to provide electricity to the recycling centre – the first such set up in operation in the UAE; and intelligent relay sensors attached to the collection bins in these centres to feed accurate data back to Averda’s monitoring stations, amongst many others.
With this in place, the next step was on how to execute and operate this technology and practices. Built on a three decade-long experience in city cleaning, Averda brought to Dubai not only highly experienced and multilingual staff but, primarily, a new way of getting the job done and doing it very well. Dubai has become one of the cleanest cities in GCC. There is no corner of this magnificent city that has been overlooked – Averda’s people and fleet are making sure there is no stone unturned.
Technology and manpower
“If I were to list every single piece of machinery, technology and chemical/biological products we are using to ensure Dubai’s cleanliness, instead of an article we’d probably end up writing a textbook,” jokes Natour. However, on a more serious note, he mentions that Averda works in close co-operation with some of the world’s most reputable and technologically advanced manufacturers. In terms of chemical and biological products used, all the materials are imported from the European Union; they have the EC marking and are fully compliant regarding human and animal safety, with a bacterial and microbial removal level of up to 95 per cent. The most crucial part of Averda’s success in Dubai is the paramount role that the staff plays in this business.
Smart resources being used
Averda is quite reputed for its development of and investment in state-of-the-art machinery and technologies. “Apart from working with some of the world’s best technology developers, we have our own R&D department that is always researching new and efficient ways to compost organic waste, maximise the use of renewable resources and minimise the reliance on intensive consumables. A cross section of our smart technologies deployed in Dubai includes RFD IDs for the waste bins, solar panels to provide electricity required for recycling centres and many others,” contributes Natour.
Averda constantly supports its clients and partners to launch periodic awareness campaigns to drive a behavioural change across the waste management generators - residents of the city, business owners, schools and higher education bodies, children and students, public institutions. Having mitigated the fundamental challenges encountered when it entered city cleaning contracts, such as littering, now the company’s focus is represented by recycling activities that could be further increased, thus minimising the quantity of waste that is being landfilled.
The company provides three types of training for its employees.
- Health & Safety inductions, toolbox talks and job specific training - these are designed to ensure the safety of the staff when handling machinery, tools and other equipment they need/use while on the job. The second component to this training is represented by the extent and manner in which the staff safeguards the wellbeing of those they come into contact while performing their tasks: people, cars, moving equipment etc.
- Job training: Averda regularly holds boot-camps where operations managers are sent to learn about the cleaning operations and the most efficient and effective ways to execute their tasks. During these boot-camps, they also have the opportunity to share best practice and lessons learned with their colleagues from other countries, with the main aim of ensuring a maximisation of clients’ return on their investments in the projects the company is tasked with.
- Another corporate programme is ‘All on the Ground’ – in this case, every Averda employee, regardless of their position or office location, goes on a two-day training on the ground, working side by side with the labourers - washing streets, collecting bins, segregating the waste, etc. This programme is designed to provide everyone in the business with an understanding of the kind of tasks, jobs, processes and activities undertaken.
Environmental concerns are at the heart of everything Averda does. The company’s fleet has a very low carbon footprint and all its activities, not just in Dubai but everywhere in the world where Averda is present, are designed to increase recycling rates, minimise the quantity of waste to landfill, increase the volume of organic waste for composting and decrease fossil fuel consumption.
Apart from this, Averda is involved in two key projects.
- Project MainStream is a multi-industry, global initiative launched in 2014 and led by the chief executive officers of nine global companies, Averda’s CEO being one of them. At the World Economic Forum in Davos organised in January this year, the CEO presented the findings of “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics” report - one of the first pieces of global research undertaken by Project MainStream. The report represented the first vision of a world economy in which plastics never become waste.
- Since 2015, under the auspices of the European Union’s multilateral cross-border cooperation Program ‘Mediterranean Sea Basin’, Averda has been closely working with the national authorities of 6 Mediterranean countries. The scope of this programme is to develop an integrated and environmentally sound waste management system using innovative technologies, sustainable waste treatment and recycling techniques, supported by robust awareness campaigns and communication programmes. To date, in less than 1 year from its implementation, an incredible figure of more 550,000 bottles have been recycled in schools and universities across Spain, Italy, Tunis and Lebanon, with France and Egypt recycling activities to be soon deployed.