During the 7th Education Interface Exhibition and Middle East Youth Conference, held under the patronage of Lt. General His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikha Dr Moza bint Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, a faculty member in the College of Business at Abu Dhabi University, and Chair of the College Advisory Board, presented research results regarding the measures taken by the municipal solid waste (MSW) sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as recommendations for future improvements.
Sheikha Dr Moza stressed the need to intensify research studies on innovative engineering geotextile and soil materials that impede the movement of pathogens arising from landfill waste material in the soil. She discussed the importance of promoting supercritical fluid sterilization technologies, testing the detox technologies to neutralize the virus in soil remediation and medical product applications, and studying the effects of the large quantities of sterilizers and disinfectants on the marine environment. Lastly, she highlighted the need to examine the performance of wastewater treatment plants, as they may be affected by the sterilizers and disinfectants sprayed on city streets and ending in the sewerage system.
This work resulted from a joint research project entitled ‘Sustainable Waste Management Strategies for the Covid-19 Pandemic.’ The research was presented by Professor Sherine Farouk of the College of Business and Professor Evan Paleologos of the College of Engineering at Abu Dhabi University, who participated in developing the research project. The research also involved collaboration with prestigious universities from the USA, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Scotland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and India. It will be published in the international journal ‘Environmental Geotechnics’, one of the most prestigious global SCOPUS engineering journals of the International Institute of Civil Engineers, with an impact factor of 1.621.
Through the research, Sheikha Dr Moza assessed the potential of solid waste management technologies during the Covid-19 pandemic. She evaluated the various strategies used worldwide for the collection, transportation, and disposal of household items potentially affected by the virus and identified factors that may assist in transmitting the virus through landfill and soil. Her Highness also referred to multiple proposed solutions for solid waste management during the Covid-19 pandemic and other epidemics that the world may witness in the future.
Her Highness praised the conference as a pioneering platform that brought together various stakeholders in the education sector and appreciated the Ministry of Interior’s efforts to highlight education as one of the main pillars on which societies’ progress and prosperity are based.
Professor Evan Paleologos presented some of the challenges that the MSW industry has faced during the pandemic. These include special training on handling waste and issuing personal protection equipment (PPE) to all MSW employees, modifying waste collection times to account for the virus’s life on waste surfaces, and pausing recycling activities. Waste generation increased significantly during the pandemic, placing significant stress on the MSW sector. In terms of facemasks alone, China, the largest producer of masks globally, increased its production capacity tenfold during the pandemic, with daily production reaching more than 100 million masks. It is estimated that the global monthly use of facemasks is about 129 billion, and these are disposed of as solid waste rather than recycled.
Supporting scientific research is a priority for Abu Dhabi University as part of its strategy to support competitive research locally and globally. It is committed to encouraging and supporting scientific research and applying the highest scientific research standards and innovation in line with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. The University has launched several initiatives to improve its research position in the region to support a knowledge-based economy.
As part of its research strategy, Abu Dhabi University has focused on international cooperation with the most prominent universities known for their important scientific research and the integration of scientific research into the teaching system at various levels. According to the index report Scopes, an internationally renowned database specializing in scientific research, Abu Dhabi University has increased its research outputs by 33% annually over the past five years.
On 22 and 23 March, more than 150 education institutions, and some of the best international and local universities, will participate in the exhibition and conference. It will provide them with a unique opportunity to present their institutions and programs of study and other services and educational journeys to more than 15,000 students, parents, adult learners, and higher education learners.