Research Matters

Waste recycling: From research to practice

Waste recycling: From research to practice

How waste materials are transformed into High-value construction applications

It’s not often that environmental protection, spending cuts, and self-reliance can be lumped together in the same sentence. Two intertwined QNRF-funded projects may have just pulled off this remarkable feat, and then some  .
Two things sparked the mind of Dr. Khaled Hassan; Qatar’s reliance on imported aggregate for its infrastructure development, and a seven million square meter landfill at Rawdat Rashed – a village located in the municipality of Al-Shahaniya – where most of the construction waste is dumped.
He somehow knew that something can be done to fix the dilemma. “If such large volumes of waste can be recycled efficiently, significant environmental and economic benefits can be amassed”, Dr. Hassan thought to himself. Wasting no time, Dr. Hassan set a few steps in motion, and so the ‘Innovative use of recycled and secondary aggregate materials in construction’ project (NPRP 4-188-2-61) was born.
With the help of a team of researchers that included Dr. Mohammed bin Saif Al-Kuwari, Dr. Murray Reid, and Dr. Okan Sirin, Dr. Hassan was able to identify the main waste streams in Qatar, with construction and excavation waste in Rawdat Rashid being the biggest source of recycled materials in the country.
The team partnered with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), and industry stakeholders, and before long, the project demonstrated the use of recycled construction waste in high-value applications of building and road construction. Moreover, the team developed a strategy for effective recycling implementation in practice.
This potentially meant not only fewer landfills, healthier neighborhoods, and a huge reduction in country-wide construction costs, but also less dependence on imported materials and a notable contribution to Qatar’s National Vision 2030, with its emphasis on sustainable development.
With such great promise, the outcomes were used for the development of the National Standard on recycled aggregate in Qatar (QS 29/2012), which was later adopted as the first Gulf Standardization Organization specification (GSO 2489/2015) for the use of recycled materials in structural concrete, non-structural concrete, road pavements and fill applications.
The project also went on to receive various national and regional awards, including its recognition as the most innovative green project in Qatar and the entire MENA region.
“The outstanding support of QNRF, government institutions, and industry, has greatly facilitated the implementation of the project outcomes. However, there had since been little use of recycled aggregates in Qatar and the Middle East, largely because of concerns about material variability and the lack of successful case studies”, Dr. Hassan explained.
The remedy, Dr. Hassan figured, was a follow-up project in partnership with the MME to give stakeholders more confidence in the wider implementation of recycled materials in construction. That’s when the (NPRP 7-795-2-296) project titled  ‘Innovative use of recycled aggregate in construction – Implementation’ came into play.
Although still in progress  , the new implementation project has successfully provided the practical evidence needed as the team – with the help of Ashghal and other stakeholders – built actual roads and provided site monitoring data that exhibited the quality and durability required in high-value construction applications.
“Not only that, the project established its potential to bring on a reduction in carbon emissions of up to 75%, as well as cost savings of up to QR 300 Million per year, compared to imported aggregates, and a serious improvement in the quality and service life of construction products”, Dr. Al-Kuwari explained.
In December of 2019, the MME signed a cooperation agreement with Qatar Primary Materials Company (QPMC) for construction waste recycling at the Rawdat Rashed landfill, which is estimated to hold around 40 million tons of such materials. The waste is set to be converted into materials suitable for use in infrastructure and construction projects.
This milestone, which follows the recommendations made in the QNRF-funded research projects, is considered a qualitative shift in the field of municipal waste recycling in Qatar and places the country at the forefront of environmental tech development and implementation.
As for what the future holds, Dr. Hassan and Dr. Al-Kuwari noted that an intensive program is planned to train producers and users in the effective and efficient use of recycled materials in construction. “What’s exciting about all of this is that we managed to harness research to overcome a national challenge, not on paper, but in practice. We definitely look forward to further collaboration with QNRF and key stakeholders to help Qatar achieve the next level of sustainability and preservation of the environment”, Dr. Hassan remarked.

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