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Reimagining Waste

First featured in the February edition of Middle East Consultant magazine - Angitha Pradeep speaks to Ruchin Garg, Regional Manager - Middle East & Africa at CDE, about the company’s quarter-century journey, our commitment to sustainability, and a circular economy, and our projects in the Middle East.

Established in 1992, CDE is a Northern Ireland headquartered organisation with landmark projects such as the world’s largest sand washing plant and the world’s most extensive construction and demolition (C&D) waste recycling plant under its belt.

With operations spread across eight regions from Northern and Latin America to Australasia, CDE’s HQ in Cookstown, Northern Ireland is also the world’s largest campus dedicated to the wet processing of materials in sand and aggregates, mining, C&D waste recycling, industrial sands, and environmental sectors.

Over the last 25 years, the company has delivered over 2,000 projects across 100 countries, while simultaneously working to reduce water shortage and create sustainability in the sector, as part of its brand ethos.

Ruchin Garg, Regional Manager - Middle East & Africa at CDE tells Middle East Consultant, the company installed its first project in the region in 2008. Since then, CDE has installed over 100 projects in the region with different applications, he says. CDE’s first regional plant in Qatar can process 1,200 tonnes of dune sand per hour. It is the largest sand washing plant in the world and can recycle over 90% of the water used.

Garg continues, “CDE spearheaded the region with its sand and aggregates washing solutions for the construction sector – with plants in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, South Africa, and Tanzania. The range of CDE solutions has revolutionised the sand and aggregate washing industry in terms of efficiency, allowing customers to wash even the dirtiest of sands and aggregates thanks to its pinpoint accuracy in silt and clay cut points.”

He adds, “Looking to the future, the region is bustling with expected infrastructure growth and greater adoption of the circular economy – and we are excited to play our role in the region’s progression.” Discussing the pandemic, Garg notes that though the MEA region experienced slower growth in comparison to other markets, CDE reported a year-on-year revenue increase.

“In 2020, the team navigated novel challenges brought by the pandemic and successfully installed many projects. In addition, my mandate since 2020 has been to bring CDE’s advanced processing methods of recycling C&D waste to the region.”

He elaborates, “The major market trend we have observed is the push towards a circular economy. Soaring urbanisation presents a mounting challenge to meet the demands of the construction industry, and recycled materials are an effective solution when supported by the most appropriate technologies and practices.”

“For 2021 and beyond, we foresee the region adopting wet processing technologies for higher-end product specifications and waste diversion. Our clients are a testament to our commitment to R&D, process design, manufacturing quality and after-sales services.

We have a dedicated approach to each client with a focus on economic and environmental sustainability for the people and the planet.”

Unlocking Value

CDE notes that when supported with the appropriate processing practices and technology, sand and stone resources recovered from C&D activities can be utilised for high-value construction and infrastructure projects. CDE has helped customers realise the potential in recycled aggregates. Here, Garg mentions a project in the UK with The Sheehan Group. “CDE’s washing plant processes all the C&D waste that contracting company The Sheehan Group handles, and has diverted over 750,000 tonnes of inert waste from landfill over the past seven years. It creates 20,000 building blocks a day from 100% recycled aggregates which follow a CE-certified process.” 

He also mentions a project in France, which was commissioned for Pélichet Albert SA, a public works contractor, and aggregates producer that operates a circular economy business model with operations in demolition, groundworks, landfill, and C&D waste recycling.

Explaining CDE’s wet processing technology, which was used for the plant, Garg says, “Pélichet is diverting an estimated 200,000 tonnes of C&D waste from landfill per year. The engineered-to-order plant is supporting the contractor to produce high-quality competitive and sustainable sand and aggregates. This is used in concrete mix and drainage systems, ensuring valuable resources are returned to the construction industry.”

Shifting focus to CDE’s projects in the Middle East, he states that notable projects include manufactured sand (M-Sand) from crusher waste project and a silica resource project in Tunisia.

On the technology side, Garg says that the M-sand solution was custom built to deal with a specific material, due to the level of variation in crusher dust in different settings. “This specific CDE solution, processed -6mm crusher dust to transform waste into high-quality sand and aggregates for the local construction industry. M-Sand is free of impurities such as clay, dust, and silt, and has denser particle packing than natural sand particles thereby reducing the voids in aggregate and hence saves cement requirement in concrete production.”

In Tunisia, the project was commissioned by SOMEVAM, a subsidiary of the Sebri group, which has served the North African country’s construction market since 2001. Garg points out that CDE’s solution helped SOMEVAM diversify into the glass industry in North Africa and Europe, and due to its tailormade solution, SOMEVAM was also able to eliminate contaminants and increase the quality of its end products.

“It produces glass sand (150-650 microns) and related products, including oversized (3mm) ready-to-be-used in-water filtration systems, coarse sand (650 microns-3mm) ready-to-be-ground to make flour silica, ultrafine (30-150 microns) for ceramics or other industries, and iron-rich sand that can be used in sports fields.”

Garg states that CDE’s installation for SOMEVAM transformed the feed material into five high-specification products with exceptional commercial value and market-ready straight from the belts. Speaking about after-sales services, Garg says the firm has a customer care team in Dubai, and that its engineers and project managers are equipped to provide best-in-class support. CDE also provides in-depth training on maintenance and optimisation, he adds. “The most recent development in this field is a suite of smart technology, CDE CORE, for plant maintenance and breakdown. This enables customers to increase the efficiency of their plant, automate processes, and lower their operating costs.”

The Circular Economy In Practice

Asked to outline some of the challenges in the region, Garg says, “One of the key challenges in C&D recycling is the high level of contamination, which is much higher than in other parts of the world. However, our experience in C&D waste from our global project portfolio has helped us address this problem. Our expert engineers adapt processes to suit the region’s local requirement and customise each solution specifically for the customer.”

Globally, he states that the industry’s main issues include sand depletion, water management, and sustainable mining. However, he affirms that CDE strives to be part of the solution and insists on the importance of educating clients on the circular economy, and driving real change in the industry’s approach to sustainability. “Over the past 16 years, we have helped our customers divert over 80m tonnes of C&D waste from landfills using sustainable solutions. We enable our customers to create products like concrete blocks and ready-mix concrete from waste. The CDE water management system provides additional benefits by recirculating up to 90% of the process water, helping to reduce the volume of fresh top-up water required.”

Garg says Saudi Arabia’s focus to build a more robust economy while reducing its dependence on crude oil will help the nation and the region. Similarly, he highlights the UAE’s initiatives on C&D waste recycling. He elaborates, “In the region, sharp economic growth in the construction industry has led to increasing legislation aimed at reducing the volume of waste destined for landfill. In 2019, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) issued a Ministerial Resolution on the use of recycled aggregates. This outlined the requirements for recycling, among other non-hazardous solid waste, concrete and gravel into new, high-value materials for projects including road surfacing. The resolution also mandated local departments ensure that contractors collect and sort waste generated at construction and demolition sites.”

He continues, “Although progress is being made, legislation needs to be revisited to allow the usage of recycled sand and aggregates with the necessary process in place.” Concluding, Garg says, “We share the region’s focus towards a circular economy and sustainable development and look forward to opportunities which can solve the industry’s main challenges. At CDE, sustainability is not a trend; it is an ethos that we have embraced for the past quarter-century in our collective effort to not only maximise the commercial opportunities of our customers’ operations but to protect finite natural resources.”

"Looking to the future, the region is bustling with expected infrastructure growth and greater adoption of the circular economy – and we are excited to play our role in the region’s progression."
Ruchin Garg, Regional Manager MEA, CDE
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