Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam account for 44% of waste produced in KSA

The volume of medical waste is increasing in the Kingdom as a result of a growth in healthcare services, according to the environmental authority.

Saudi Gazette report

— The General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (GAMEP) has warned against increasing amount of waste across the Kingdom. It said cities in the Eastern Province, Riyadh and Makkah provinces account for a huge portion of waste produced in the country.

"Of the total 13.6 million tons of waste produced by 169 cities, towns and villages in the Kingdom annually, 6 million tons are in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam," the authority said in a report carried by Al-Hayat Arabic daily.

The report said medical waste was increasing in the Kingdom as a result of a growth in healthcare services, adding that these medical wastes cause health problems to human beings. It indicated the danger of unloading medical wastes in public dumps without treating them.

"Untreated medical waste will pollute earth and underground water," GAMEP said while emphasizing the need for an agency to manage medical waste and supervise its treatment and dumping. "We should also train workers for treatment and dumping of medical waste properly."

Total solid medical wastes produced by government hospitals and health centers in the Kingdom reached 39,419 tons annually, according to the latest statistics issued by the Health Ministry. At the same time, liquid medical waste reached 34,888 tons.

"These wastes are usually treated by specialized private firms," the authority said.

Waste grows with population increase as the total volume of waste jumped from 11.6 million tons in 2010 to 13.6 million tons in 2014 with an average annual increase of 4.2 percent, according to figures issued by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs last year.

It added that 65.6 percent of the Kingdom's population is concentrated in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in accordance with national census. Average per capita production of waste is estimated at 1.1 kg daily while in small cities and villages it is 0.7 kg daily.

Per capita municipal waste is estimated at 14 kg daily, which is close to per capita volume of waste in other GCC countries.

The GAMEP report referred to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs on different types of waste. It said organic waste accounted for 37.5 percent, paper waste 28.5 percent, plastic waste 5.2 percent, metal waste 8 percent, glass 4.6 percent, textiles 6.4 percent and wood 2.2 percent.

Government agencies have warned against increasing industrial waste. "This has led to a rise in toxic waste, including those produced by oil and petrochemical industries and carbon produced as a result of burning fuel at electricity and desalination plants," the report said.

GAMEP estimated total toxic waste from oil refineries, industries and hospitals at 900,000 cubic meters per year. The volume of dangerous waste produced by oil and petrochemical industries in the Kingdom over the past years reached 433,000 tons per year, which is 48 percent of the total dangerous waste in the country.

Most of the dangerous waste is produced in the Eastern Province, followed by Riyadh and Makkah, the report said. Electricity and desalination plants produce 156,732 tons of carbon ash annually as a result of burning fossil fuel, it added.