The UAE's Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) has signed a contract with Ceres Associates to execute Phase 1 of an initiative to rehabilitate Umm Al Quwain's original landfill site.

Under the terms of the deal, the integrated environmental and waste management firm will lay the groundwork for an extensive rehabilitation of the 15-year-old facility.

Phase 1 of the initiative will involve the treatment of various kinds of waste, an upgrade of the site's existing materials recovery facility (MRF), and the installation of a new compressor. The landfill's lining  – a low-permeable barrier that prevents toxic substances from leaking into the ground – will also be repaired.

The entire project will be undertaken in two phases, and is expected to cost approximately $3.2m (AED11.8m) to complete.

Ceres Associates plans to complete Phase 1 of the initiative in December 2017.

The project complements plans to build a second landfill facility in Umm Al Quwain. The additional site will contain two sanitary engineering cells that comply with internationally approved technical standards, and feature an environmentally friendly sewage treatment plant that will serve the emirate's residential and commercial segments.

Umm Al Quwain's new municipal solid waste treatment plant and waste treatment plant are expected to become operational before the end of this year.

Eng Yousef Abdullah Al-Rissi, director of waste management at MoCCAE, said: "In line with the UAE National Agenda 2021 and the ministry’s mandate to implement sustainable waste management systems across the UAE, we are prioritising a holistic upgrade to address the waste problem in the Northern Emirates.

"The upgrade will enable us to vastly improve waste management capacity and efficiency, since our target is to treat up to 75% of all waste collected in the emirate."

Outlining challenges specific to landfill sites, Al-Rissi added: “With a steadily increasing population and industrial activity, our landfills are under immense pressure to accommodate growing amounts of waste that come in on a daily basis. The challenge is compounded when we receive a large amount of waste – such as batteries and electronics that are improperly segregated – posing a significant risk to the environment and the community.

“The upgrades we are undertaking to the waste management infrastructure in Umm Al Qwain, coupled with the ongoing awareness programmes that teach people how to manage waste, will better equip us to tackle this challenge," he concluded.