The United Arab Emirates is fueling cement production using thousands of tons of camel manure produced in the region. This comes as part of the government plans to divert 75 percent of waste from landfills by 2021. In doing so, the country aims to reduce carbon emissions and drive the circular economy in which resources are used multiple times to minimize waste.
Farmers of the northern emirate, Ras al-Khaimah, gather the camel excrement before unloading it at collection stations. It is then blended with coal to make fuel that powers the boiler of a large cement factory, Gulf Cement Company.
"People started to laugh, believe me," said Mohamed Ahmed Ebrahimo, manager of Gulf Cement Company.
"We heard from our grandfathers that they used cow dung for heating. But nobody had thought about the camel waste itself."
After testing the theory, the company found that two tons of camel manure could replace one ton of coal. The company now uses 50 tons of camel dung per day to fuel its boilers.
Although camel manure is considered a rare fuel in comparison to cow feces, it works perfectly for the UAE. Ras al-Khaimah alone houses some 9,000 camels used for milk, beauty contests and racing. The 8 kilograms-a-day of excrement (per camel) is more than enough for farmers to use as fertilizer, and factories to use as fuel.
One farm owner, Ahmad al-Khatri, told Gulf News that farmers usually don't make much use of the feces.
"The most important thing is for the area to be clean, for the camels to be clean," he explained.