This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Due to rapid industrialization, high population growth, and fast urbanization, waste management is a top priority for Saudi Arabia, where more than 106 million tons of waste are expected to be treated by 2035. The Saudi Arabian Government’s 2022 budget line item for Municipal Services is $50 billion which is the same as its actual estimated 2021 expenditure.
Saudi Arabia produces about 53 million tons of waste every year, contaminating its soil and groundwater. According to Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Waste Management, the environmental degradation caused by solid waste in 2021 was estimated at $1.3 billion. Nearly half of the total waste comes from three major cities: 21 percent from Riyadh, 14 percent from Jeddah, and eight percent from Dammam. Most landfills in Saudi Arabia are on the brink of reaching their capacity. Saudis make heavy use of disposable products, notably single-use plastics. Recycling is limited. The majority of municipal waste is disposed of, untreated, in landfills, while some is incinerated. Once the landfill sites are full, the land typically cannot be used for other purposes. Landfills in Saudi Arabia are usually not engineered to limit their harmful effects. According to the former CEO of the Saudi Investment Recycling Company, most of the country’s waste is currently being landfilled at an average of $1.87 per ton.
Key Players in the Saudi Arabia Waste Management Sector
- Ministry of Environment, Water, & Agriculture (MEWA): Responsible for the regulation and implementation of all aspects of the country’s policies for the environmental, water and agricultural sectors.
- National Center for Waste Management (MWAN): Regulates and supervises waste management activities and promotes principle of circular economy in waste management to achieve sustainable development goals. Radioactive and military waste management is outside the purview of MWAN.
- National Center for Environmental Compliance (NCEC): NCEC oversees issuance of licensing and accreditation services to organizations offering environmental services. The center also issues and renews service facilities and establishes activities that have a potential impact on the environment.
Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC): The largest industrial waste management company in the GCC with a fully integrated platform to handle, store, transport, treat, and safely dispose of the hazardous waste. SIRC develops, owns, operates, and finances various activities across all waste types to establish recycling capacities in Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA): A 100 percent Public Investment-owned company mandated to invest and commercialize the R&D output from various research institutions locally and globally.
- National Center for Privatization and PPP (NCP): A public center of excellence that aids in developing regulations, creating privatization frameworks, and preparing government assets and services for privatization.
- National Environmental Recycling Company (Tadweer): A leading company specialized in recycling electronic and electrical waste.
- Tadweer Food Recycling Company: A leading company in addressing food waste and converting it into useful organic fertilizers.
- AlQaryan Group: With a number of recycling plantsincluding copper, E-waste and PVC recycling, AlQaryan Group undertakes long-term onsite metal recycling services for the industrial sector.
- Riyadh Municipality: Responsible for the development and implementation strategy for greater Riyadh in coordination with MWAN and SIRC. Generates procurement tenders for projects in Riyadh.
- Eastern Province Municipality: Includes the sub-municipalities of Dhahran, Dammam, and Khobar. Responsible for the development and implementation strategy for the Eastern Province in coordination with MWAN and SIRC. Generates procurement tenders for projects in the Eastern Province.
- Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company (JDURC): A closed joint-stock company fully owned by the Municipality of Jeddah specializing in urban development programs and the treatment and collection of waste materials.
- Waste Collection and Recycling Co. (WASCO): The largest company specialized in waste management in Saudi Arabia. It has exclusive contractual agreements with the Municipality of Jeddah through the latter’s Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company to operate centers for the management and handling of recyclable municipal waste in the governorate of Jeddah and its suburbs.
- Yanbu United Company (YUNITCO): The recycling plant in Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa and the second largest globally. It specializes in recycling oil from factories, petroleum and petrochemical companies, cement factories and other oil waste, and has dedicated units for used oil treatment and petroleum waste recycling.
Doing Business in the Saudi Arabia Waste Management Sector
MWAN issues licenses to all service providers, establishments, investors, and facilities related to waste management activities with which the center is concerned. It also grants permits to recycling facilities after all necessary requirements have been met before the licensing of such facilities is issued by the competent authority.
Regarding procurement, although U.S. exporters are not required to appoint a local Saudi agent or distributor to sell to Saudi companies, it is strongly recommended that companies consider partnering with a local company for the purposes of monitoring business opportunities, navigating import and standard testing regulations, and identifying public sector sales and contract opportunities.
Saudi Arabia’s Procurement Law regulates all government procurement – including MWAN tenders. The Ministry of Finance is the overarching authority for the law and its implementation, and administers the procurement portal, Etimad, which serves as a centralized repository for all government tenders. Under Vision 2030, Municipalities – under which waste management falls – is one of the sectors targeted for privatization by the NCP. In addition to exploring procurement tendering opportunities directly with the Riyadh, Eastern Province, and Jeddah municipalities, U.S. companies may find procurement opportunities posted on the NCP website as well as on the websites of SIRC, Tadweer, TAQNIA, Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company, WASCO, and UNITCO.
In 2021, Saudi Arabia published a new Waste Management Law to regulate the transport, segregation, storage, import, export, safe disposal of waste and all other related activities. All concerned parties must recycle, retrieve resources, and ensure safe disposal in order to achieve better environmental and economic results. The law prescribes the responsibilities of waste related service providers. For example, disposal service providers must adhere to the disposal methods set by the NCWM. As for hazardous waste transporters, they must use means of transportation that conform with NWMC standards, place warning labels and ensure the existence of documentation about the transported hazardous waste.
By 2030, Saudi Arabia intends to divert 60 percent of construction and demolition waste from landfills — recycling 12 percent, reusing 35 percent and treating 13 percent. Moreover, it plans to divert 100 percent of municipal solid waste from landfills through recycling 82 percent of this waste, and processing 19 percent to use as energy sources (waste-to-energy).
MWAN aims to recycle 35 percent of all types of waste by 2035, and it plans to treat the waste that cannot be recycled through the production of derivative fuels or the production of energy. It estimates that Saudi Arabia will require over 1,300 treatment facilities and landfills to treat 106 million tons of waste.
MWAN’s Vision 2030 Waste Management Targets:
- Total Diversion Rate from Landfill: 82 percent
- Recycling: 42 percent
- Compost: 35 percent
- Incineration: 19 percent
- Others: 4 percent
SIRC is aiming to divert 85 percent of Saudi Arabia’s industrial hazardous waste from landfills through recycling and treatment.
Waste Management & Recycling: As part of its National Transformation Program, Saudi Arabia has launched a system for municipal waste management in order to tackle all types of solid wastes, including general solid wastes such as construction debris, medical waste, hazardous waste, asbestos waste and used oils. Opportunities for technology owners and service providers include comprehensive solutions for material recovery facilities, solutions to treat hazardous waste, recycling waste and converting them into valuable resources or raw materials, engineering and construction services focused on recycling facilities and technologies, and automation and Artificial Intelligence solutions.
Oil & Gas Operations Waste and Industrial Recycling: Effective waste management and innovative recycling technologies are an integral part of Saudi Aramco’s Circular Carbon Economy initiative. Given the high level of carbon intensity and amount of waste generated from the industry, Saudi Aramco is striving to reduce that by building strategic collaborations companies to treat waste, recycle metals and recycle and reuse plastic and rubber. Opportunities exist for companies that offer unique solutions and technologies in waste management infrastructure, mobile waste management technologies and special waste management studies.
Radioactive Waste Management: The National Center of Radioactive Waste Management at K.A.CARE manages and controls all aspects of radioactive waste including identification, transportation and storage. Currently the sources of radioactive waste in Saudi Arabia are limited to nuclear medicine and production of radioactive drugs and sources. Opportunities exist for companies to collaborate on: treatment of radioactive waste and decontamination and disposal.
Waste-to-Energy: SIRC has stated that it will invest in waste-to-energy plants to contribute to the country’s target of generating 3GW of waste-to-energy capacity by 2030. A priority goal is to make waste-to-energy more cost-efficient. In 2018, Saudi firm Sadara and France’s Veolia signed a memorandum of understanding to build a sustainable utilities plant in the industrial city of Jubail. The aim is to produce industrial steam, cooled water and compressed air from the incineration of industrial waste.
Food Waste: According Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Saudi Grains Organization, food waste costs Saudi Arabia $10.6 billion annually with food loss and waste hitting 33 percent. In January 2020, the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs issued a decree mandating all restaurants and wedding halls to contract with food banks to preserve excess food. Opportunities exist for companies that can help Saudi municipalities improve all stages of their food supply chains to minimize food waste — from agriculture to manufacturing, distribution and consumption.
- Ministry of Environment, Water, & Agriculture
- National Center for Waste Management
- Saudi Investment Recycling Company
- Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company
- National Center for Privatization and PPP
- National Environmental Recycling Company
- Riyadh Municipality
- Eastern Province Municipality
- Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company
- Waste Collection and Recycling Co.
- Yanbu United Company
- Vision 2030
- Saudi Aramco
- The National Center for Radioactive Waste Management - KA CARE
- Waste Expo
- International Conference on Electronic Waste Management, Recycling and Disposal (
- Saudi Green Initiative
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