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WMR0010.1177/0734242X16628983Waste Management & ResearchAbushammala et al.

Original Article

Economic and environmental benefits


of landfill gas utilisation in Oman

Waste Management & Research


17
The Author(s) 2016
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DOI: 10.1177/0734242X16628983
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Mohammed FM Abushammala, Wajeeha A Qazi,


Mohammed-Hasham Azam, Umais A Mehmood,
Ghithaa A Al-Mufragi and Noor-Alhuda Alrawahi

Abstract
Municipal solid waste disposed in landfill sites decomposes under anaerobic conditions and produces so-called landfill-gas, which
contains 30%40% of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 50%60% of methane (CH4). Methane has the potential of causing global warming
25 times more than CO2. Therefore, migration of landfill-gas from landfills to the surrounding environment can potentially affect
human life and environment. Thus, this research aims to determine municipal solid waste generation in Oman over the years 19712030,
to quantify annual CH4 emissions inventory that resulted from this waste over the same period of time, and to determine the economic
and environmental benefits of capturing the CH4 gas for energy production. It is found that cumulative municipal solid waste landfilled
in Oman reaches 3089Giga gram (Gg) in the year 2030, of which approximately 85Gg of CH4 emissions are produced in the year
2030. The study also found that capturing CH4 emissions between the years 2016 and 2030 could attract revenues of up to US$333
million and US$291 million from the carbon reduction and electricity generation, simultaneously. It is concluded that CH4 emissions
from solid waste in Oman increases enormously with time, and capture of this gas for energy production could provide a sustainable
waste management solution in Oman.
Keywords
Methane, emissions, landfills, solid waste, waste economic, Oman waste generation

Introduction
The generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) has rapidly
increased worldwide owing to the fast economic development
and urbanisation, which also significantly changed the composition of MSW. The greatest per capita amounts of MSW across the
world are generally produced by the gulf regions (lies between
Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest)
(Palanivel and Sulaiman, 2014). The total volume of solid waste
generated in the gulf region is approximately 120million tonnes
per year, in which MSW is the second largest waste category by
source (Palanivel and Sulaiman, 2014). Of all Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) countries, Oman has made the most rapid progress in the development within a short period of time. The country today is very different from what it was in 1970. Oman has
built a modern infrastructure and the level of industrialisation
has increased markedly. Oman has one of the highest amounts of
waste generated per capita in the world, around 1.6kg per day
(Oxford Business Group, 2012).
Disposal of MSW in landfills results in the generation of huge
amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG), because the decomposition
of MSW under anaerobic conditions produces landfill gas (LFG)
containing approximately 50%60% methane (CH4) and 30%
40% carbon dioxide (CO2) by volume. CH4 has a global warming
potential 25 times greater than CO2, which has adverse effects on

the environment. Migration of CH4 gas from landfills to the surrounding environment can potentially affect human life. Gas
explosion incidents were reported at Loscoe village in England in
1986, and Skellingsted Landfill in Denmark (Christophersen
etal., 2001) owing to CH4 gas migration. The CH4 emission from
landfills is continually increasing owing to increasing population
growth and per capita waste generation, with landfills ranking as
the third-largest anthropogenic CH4 source after rice paddies and
ruminants (Qingxian etal., 2007). The Inter-governmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that CH4 landfill emissions
account for approximately 12% of global CH4 emissions (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2006).
In past decades, methane (CH4) emissions from landfills has
usually been estimated using statistics on population and waste
quality and quantity (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate

Department of Civil Engineering, Middle East College, Al Rusayl,


Sultanate of Oman
Corresponding author:
Mohammed FM Abushammala, Department of Civil Engineering,
Middle East College, Knowledge Oasis Muscat, PB No 79, Al Rusayl
124, Sultanate of Oman.
Email: eng_abushammala@yahoo.com

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Waste Management & Research

Change, 1996); many models are currently available. The IPCC


introduced three tiers for estimating CH4 emission from landfills
in each country: Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. The Tier 1 method is
the default method and is based on a mass-balance approach to
estimate total national emissions using a number of empirical
constant parameters, e.g. the methane-correction factor (MCF),
degradable organic compounds (DOCs), and dissimilated organic
fraction converted into LFG (DOCf), considered while developing the default methodology (Kumar etal., 2004). The Tier 2 and
3 methods are based on a first-order decay (FOD) in the emission
calculations (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,
2006). The decision of choosing the most appropriate method is
based on the availability of current and historical country-specific data on waste disposed in landfills.
The current article aims to determine MSW generation in
Oman over the years 19712030, to quantify annual CH4 emissions inventory resulting from this waste over the same period of
time, and to determine the economic and environmental benefits
of capturing the CH4 gas for energy production. The estimation
and prediction of MSW generation play an important role in
MSW management in Oman. It is very important for the local
authority in Oman to know how much solid waste is generated so
that they can assess their current and future needs in budgeting,
operation, and processing equipment. The study is also important
for conducting projects aimed to capture CH4 gas from landfills
and generate electricity, and thereby provide a sustainable waste
management solution.

Solid waste management in Oman


The Sultanate of Oman is an Arab country located at the Southeast
corner of Arabian Peninsula (Figure 1); it is located 2360 north
and 5855 east. Omans main city and capital is Muscat. The
total population of Oman is 3.623 million according to the 2013
statistics. The climate is arid and semi-arid with higher humidity
in coastal areas. Average annual rainfall varies from 20mmy1 in
the interior to 300mmy1 along the coast.
The regulation of managing solid waste in Oman was issued
by ministerial decree number 17/93, stating that it is any solid or
sub solid matter that does not cause harm to the environment or
human health if treated in the proper scientific ways (United
Nations Environment Program, 2015). Currently, the waste management sector in Oman is in an evolution stage. The operations
for the management of solid waste (municipal and industrial) are
performed by the municipalities. According to the Recommendations of the Draft National Solid Waste Management
Strategy Report (former Ministry of National Economy), The
Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (beah)
(OESHC) was officially established in July 2007 and later on,
according to the Royal Decree (46/2009), beah was officially
entitled to take over the full responsibility of waste management
in Oman (Oman Environmental Services Holding Company,
2010). This includes waste collection, separation, transportation,
recycling, landfilling, and handling of all hazardous and

Figure 1. Oman map.

non-hazardous waste in the Sultanate. It is aimed at moving


Oman to zero waste, by providing safe, efficient and most economical environmental services in innovative ways.
The current waste management practice in Oman is shown in
Figure 2(a) (Oman Environmental Services Holding Company,
2015), which shows that Oman mainly depends on waste disposal practices for disposing of their wastes. This traditional
method of waste management has become useless and needs
more consideration in order to avoid environmental pollution.
Thus, the OESHC came up with the new waste management paradigm, as shown in Figure 2(b) (Oman Environmental Services
Holding Company, 2015). Currently, the most concerning are the
lack of integrated waste management systems, absence of policy
and strategic master plan, inadequacy of laws and regulations,
lack of data and records of waste, and lack of experience (Oman
Environmental Services Holding Company, 2015).

Solid waste generation


According to OESHC (2015), solid waste in Oman was classified into two categories; by source and by properties. The by
source classification divided waste into MSW and non-MSW.
The MSW is any waste produced by household, business, institutions, and commercial; while the non-MSW is the waste produced by agriculture, industry, and construction and demolition.
The by properties classification divides waste based on their
potential to cause harm into hazardous and non-hazardous. The
hazardous waste classifications include corrosive, ignitable,
toxic, reactive, and infectious. The non-hazardous materials are
classified into combustible, non-combustible, biodegradable,
and non-biodegradable.

Waste disposal practices


Currently, there are no waste treatment facilities, and dumping
waste into landfills is the only and ultimate way of waste disposal. According to OESHC (2015), currently Oman has 300
dumpsites and seven engineered landfills; distributed over the

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Abushammala et al.

Figure 2. Waste management practice in Oman: (a) current; (b) future plan (Oman Environmental Services Holding Company,
2015).

country as shown in Figure 3 (Oman Environmental Services


Holding Company, 2015). Also, there are various unapproved
dumpsites where a wide range of litters and trashes are dumped
in an unmanaged fashion. Most of the dumpsites are located
away from residential areas, where burning of waste is the only
way of treatment, resulting in gases emissions that contribute to
air pollution. The Omani Government is attempting to restore
and close the majority of the open dump sites and substitute them
with engineered landfills.

Materials and methods


Total waste generation
The scenario for estimation of MSW generation in this research
followed the Bogner and Matthews (2003) method, which estimated annual per capita waste generation based on annual per
capita energy consumption. Two linear regression models were
provided by Bogner and Matthews (2003) for estimating per
capita waste generation from per capita energy consumption.
The first linear model was for developed countries with per capita
energy consumption higher than 1500kg cool equivalent per year,
while the second for developing countries with per capita energy
consumption less than 1500kg cool equivalent per year. Therefore,
data for annual per capita energy consumption in Oman from
1971 till 2011, and annual historic Oman population from 1971
until 2011, were collected (World Bank, 2015) and used with the
models provided by Bogner and Matthews (2003) for developed
and developing countries to estimate the annual per capita waste
generation over the years 19712011. The results from both models were compared with existing values of annual per capita waste
generation data in order to select the best fit model resulting in a
minimum root mean square error (RMSE) value using:

( f (x ) y )
n

RMSE =

i =1

Figure 3. Solid waste dumpsites in Oman (Oman


Environmental Services Holding Company, 2015).

prepared for developed and developing countries for the year i,


and n is the number of years.
Finally, a model was developed based on the estimated annual
per capita waste generation data from 1971 until 2011 in order to
predict the per capita annual waste generation from the year 2011
to 2030. Consequently, the annual per capita waste generation,
together with the annual population, will be used to estimate total
annual waste generation.

(1)

where f(xi) is the per capita waste generation collected from The
Report: Oman 2012 (Oxford Business Group, 2012) in the year i,
yi is the amount of waste generation estimated using the models

Methane inventory from waste


generation
The default methodology was used in the current study to conduct the estimation of annual CH4 emissions from MSW owing
to the lack of historical data on waste composition and disposal

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Waste Management & Research

Table 1. Solid waste disposal sites classification and MCF.


Type of site

CH4 correction
factor (MCF)

Managed
Unmanaged deep (5m waste)
Unmanaged shallow (<5m waste)
Default value uncategorised SWDSs

1.0
0.8
0.4
0.6

MCF: methane-correction factor; SWDSs: solid waste disposal sites.

practices. The default method is a mass balance approach; it


can be applied as a standard tool for CH4 emissions inventory
from the waste sector for whole regions or countries (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1996). This method
depends on estimating DOC content of waste, and using it to calculate amount of CH4 that can be generated. This method assumes
that all potential CH4 is released from waste in the year that the
waste is disposed of, which overestimates emissions compared
with the FOD method. The annual CH4 emission (Giga gram
(Gg)) for each region or country can be calculated using (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 1996):
MSWT MSWF MCF DOC
(1 OX ) (2)
Emission =

DOCF F 16 R
12

where MSWT is the total MSW generated (Ggy1), MSWF is the


fraction of MSW disposed of at landfills, which is 0.84 provided
by Oman Environmental Services Holding Co., SAOCbeah (Al
Amri TA, Personal Communication, 26 May 2015). The MCF is
the CH4 correction factor (fraction) that depends on the types of
MSW landfill practices; the default values ranging between 0.4
and 1.0 (Table 1) (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,
1996).
According to OESHC (Al Amri TA, Personal Communication,
26 May 2015), most landfills in the Sultanate of Oman are
unmanaged shallow landfills, and therefore a value of 0.4 was
used. DOC is the degradable organic carbon (fraction), which
depends on waste composition. The computation of DOC fraction is essential for the estimation of the CH4 generation, and it is
determined as:
DOC = 0.4 A + 0.17 B + 0.15C + 0.3D (3)
where A = paper, B = leaves + hay + straw, C = fruits + vegetables, and D = wood. According to Palanivel and Sulaiman (2014),
the waste composition in the Sultanate of Oman provided an A
value of 0.25, B value of 0.05, C value of 0.33, and D value
of 0.016, which resulted with a value of 0.16414 of DOC
content.
The DOCF is dissimilated organic fraction, which is the portion of DOC that is converted to LFG. The estimation of DOCF is
based on a theoretical model that varies with degree of temperature in the anaerobic zone of landfills:

Figure 4. Annual per capita waste generation.

DOCF = 0.014T + 0.28 (4)


where T is waste temperature (C), with an assumption that 35C
is a constant temperature of the anaerobic zone at landfill; the
DOCF is 0.77. F in equation (2) is the CH4 fraction in LFG, the
default value for the CH4 fraction in the IPCC 1996 guideline is
0.5, which was used in the current study. The R is the CH4 recovered value (Gg y1) and OX is the cover soil oxidation factor
(fraction). In the current study, the R value was set equal to zero
where there is no gas recovery facility in the Sultanate of Oman.
The default value of the oxidation fraction is zero in the IPCC
1996 guideline (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,
1996), which was assumed throughout the calculation.

Results and discussion


Total waste generation 19712030
The annual per capita waste generation from 1971 to 2011 presented in Bogner and Matthews (2003), and per capita waste generation data collected from Oxford Business Group (2012) for the
years 2004, 2009, and 2010, are shown in Figure 4.
The results obtained from the RMSE in formula (1) show that
the model prepared for developed countries had a RMSE equal to
37.2kg waste per capita, whereas the model prepared for developing countries had a RMSE equal 944.9kg waste per capita.
This indicated that the model prepared for developed countries
fitted the existing waste generation data with a lower RMSE
value compared to the model for developing countries. Therefore,
the model prepared for developed countries was selected and
used in this study to estimate annual waste generation in Oman
from 19712011 depending on the annual energy consumption
available. Subsequently, an exponential regression model was fitted to the data on annual waste generation with a correlation coefficient (R2) value of 0.9431 (Figure 5(a)), and used for estimation
of the future annual per capita waste generation until 2030
(Figure 5(b)).
Using the annual historic and projected population data
and the annual per capita waste generation estimated, the total

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Abushammala et al.

Figure 6.CH4 emissions from 19712030.

Figure 5. Annual per capita waste generation: (a) exponential


regression model; (b) estimated and predicted data.

historic and projected waste generation for the time series


19712030 were estimated.
Above results on per capita waste generation of Oman from
19712030 show an increasing trend of the solid waste generation rate in Oman. This was due to the increase in the population
of Oman over the years.

Methane emission inventory


The annual CH4 emission from the solid waste sector in the
Sultanate of Oman is presented in Figure 6. The results show the
increasing trend of CH4 emissions with the increase in population
and total MSW over the years. Methane emissions correlated
positively with the population and total MSW generated, whereas
when the population and total MSW are increased, the higher
CH4 emissions are generated.
From the above results, the CH4 emissions in the year 2011
had increased by approximately 90% in contrast to emissions in
1971, the year the modelling commenced, with the emissions rate
increasing by about 1Gg annually. The predicted CH4 emissions
in the year 2030 increased by approximately 52% from the emissions in the year 2012, with the emission rate increasing by
approximately 2.4Gg annually. The highest CH4 emissions rates

occur from the years 2012 to 2030, in contrast to that from the
years 1971 to 2011, and this might be because of higher amounts
of waste generated, which is owing to several factors, including
population, income level, rapid development, rapid urbanisation
and increased migration patterns from rural to urban areas, and
other demographic and geographical factors.
In comparison with other Asian countries, Oman has shown
a higher level of per capita CH4 emissions resulting from solid
waste (Table 2). It was estimated that in total approximately
319
Gg of CH4 emissions were generated from MSW in
Malaysia for the year 2009 using the IPCC 1996 FOD model
(Abushammala etal., 2011), which is close to the value of CH4
emissions estimated in this study when considering the different population sizes of each country (Table 2). In Thailand,
MSW emitted approximately 121
Gg of CH4 in 2005
(Chiemchaisri etal., 2007), this was estimated using the IPCC
1996 FOD model. In 2006, the total CH4 emission in Thailand
was re-estimated by Wangyao etal. (2009) using the IPCC 2006
FOD model, where they found about 90Gg of CH4 generated
from MSW; both values are significantly lower in contrast with
the emissions estimated in this study. On average, 382Gg of
CH4 was emitted from MSW generated in India between the
years 1980 and 1999 using the default method (Kumar etal.,
2004). Using the same method, Qingxian etal. (2007) found
that 2621Gg of CH4 was emitted from China in the year 2004.
The huge differences among CH4 emissions from those countries in contrast with Oman might be owing to the difference in
the amount of waste generated, waste composition and characteristics, waste age, population, disposal practices, and environmental conditions.

Environmental and economic benefits of


methane captured
Capturing of CH4 emissions from solid waste contributes to carbon reduction, which attracts revenue; and in addition to carbon
reduction, it can be used also to produce electricity, which attracts
revenue as well. The environmental and economic benefits of
methane capture are shown in Table 3.

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Waste Management & Research

Table 2. Summary of CH4 emission in some Asian countries.


Years

Per capita CH4 emissions (kgy1)

Oman
Malaysia
India
China
Thailand

Reference

19801999

2004

2005

2009

7.3

0.3

9.6

1.7

10.1

1.8

13.1
11.5

Current study
Abushammala etal., 2011
Kumar etal., 2004
Qingxian etal., 2007
Chiemchaisri etal., 2007

Table 3. Economic benefits of CH4 captured.


Years

Estimated methane
emissions (tonnes)

aEquivalent

CO2
emissions (tonnes)

bRevenue

from
carbon credits c(OMR)

Equivalent electricity
generation (kWh)

Revenue from
electricity sale (OMR)

2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023
2024
2025
2026
2027
2028
2029
2030

49,605
51,742
53,956
56,249
58,622
61,080
63,625
66,259
68,985
71,807
74,728
77,748
80,875
84,109.8
87,456

1,240,114
1,293,553
1,348,898
1,406,212
1,465,558
1,527,003
1,590,615
1,656,464
1,724,622
1,795,164
1,868,166
1,943,709
2,021,874
2,102,744
2,186,407

6,294,076
6,565,299
6,846,198
7,137,088
7,438,294
7,750,152
8,073,009
8,407,216
8,753,147
9,111,174
9,481,692
9,865,102
10,261,818
10,672,267
11,096,890

3.06108
3.2108
3.3108
3.5108
3.6108
3.8108
3.9108
4.1108
4.3108
4.4108
4.6108
4.8108
5108
5.2108
5.4108

5,509,088
5,746,484
5,992,350
6,246,961
6,510,601
6,783,565
7,066,155
7,358,680
7,661,467
7,974,842
8,299,149
8,634,741
8,981,979
9,341,237
9,712,902

aMethane

is 25 times more global warming potential than CO2.


Riyal (OMR) 5.075 per tonne of CO2.
cOmani Riyal; 1 Omani Riyal equals US$0.38500, and EUR0.42269 (28 December 2015).
bOmani

Table 3 shows that a total of about 25million tonnes of CO2


equivalent can be emitted from 20162030. If this amount is
captured and utilised in a renewable energy project, the carbon
reduction could attract revenue of up to OMR (Omani Riyal) 128
million (OMR1 = US$2.6; US$333 million). Also, the study has
shown that a total of 6.2109 kWh of electricity can be generated
between the years 2016 and 2030 based on a methane calorific
value of 55,530kJkg1 and a gas engine efficiency of 40% (Johari
etal., 2012). This generated electricity could be sold to attract revenue of up to OMR112 million (US$291million) based on the
average price calculated as OMR0.024 per kWh in the summer
season, and OMR0.012 per kWh in the winter (Oman Chamber
of Commerce and Industry, 2010).

Conclusion
In this study, the MSW and its CH4 emissions inventory were estimated in Oman over the years 19712030. It was found that the
total MSW of Oman in the year 1971 was 141.6Ggy1, which enormously increased to 1464.4Ggy1 by the year 2010, and is expected
to increase to 3089.1Ggy1 in the year 2030. This increase in the
amount of waste emphasises that management of solid waste should
be tackled across all the environmental, operational, and social

aspects to minimise the waste impacts on both human health and


the environment. This includes the management of resources in an
environmentally sound and economically effective manner.
The total amount of CH4 emitted is obtained by using the
IPCC default method. From the results obtained it can be seen
that total 4.01Ggy1 CH4 was emitted in the year 1971, which
enormously increased to 41.46Ggy1 in the year 2010, and it is
expected to increase to 87.46Ggy1 by the year 2030. Therefore,
it can be concluded that there is an increasing trend in CH4 emissions in Oman with respect to the population and total MSW.
The CH4 emissions of Oman are also compared with other Asian
countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand, India, and China; the reason behind the differences in the CH4 emissions is believed to be
largely owing to the differences in population.
Environmental and economic benefits of CH4 estimated from
the years 20162030 are also assessed, and it was found that capturing the CH4 emissions in Oman from 20162030 will attract a
total revenue of about US$333million from carbon reduction,
and about US$291million can also be attracted from electricity
generation. It is concluded that CH4 emissions from solid waste
in Oman has enormously increased with time, and capturing of
this gas for energy production could provide a sustainable waste
management solution in Oman.

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Abushammala et al.

Acknowledgements

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The authors are acknowledging the financial support given by


the Research Council of Oman (TRC) under the Faculty Mentored
Undergraduate Research Award Program (FURUP) to conduct this
research.

Declaration of conflicting interests


The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support
for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The
authors received financial support for the research and/or publication
of this article.

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