The KAUST startup Edama processes waste to create organic soil, rich in microbial matter; shown here, an Edama plot that is part of the Agricultural Research Field Station of the Plant Growth Core Lab. Photo: KAUST
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has announced that Edama Organic Solutions, an organic waste recycling KAUST startup, officially opened its new recycling facility. Located in the KAUST Research and Technology Park, the facility is the first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to feature technology that provides waste processing and desert agriculture solutions — innovations in support of Vision 2030 sustainability goals.
All waste currently generated in Saudi Arabia is sent to landfills, where it represents a threat to the environment and public health, and is an economic burden on public administrations and businesses. Organic waste constitutes about 65% of the country's discarded matter. Waste buildup produces hazardous greenhouse gasses like methane that pollute the air and react with other waste types, creating harmful byproducts such as leachate, a contaminated liquid that pollutes underground soil and water sources.
Organic soil, rich in microbial matter, is the byproduct of the Edama recycling facility. Photo courtesy: Edama / KAUST
Edama's technology combats this, mastering the delicate biology in the composting process to transform organic waste into high-value products for desert agriculture, tree plantation and land restoration projects. The new facility, developed in collaboration with KAUST Facility Management, will recycle 100% of the university's food and green waste, producing about 4,500 m3 of high-quality soil improver with great benefits for local sandy soils. The facility positions Edama as the only local company with hands-on, in-depth industry knowledge and experience in organic waste recycling.
"We're delighted to see the growth and scale of Edama Organic Solutions since their inception at KAUST and this milestone of their first facility opening," said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation. "This will change how KAUST recycles organic waste and reshape the future of waste management in the Kingdom."
The KAUST startup Edama processes waste to create organic soil, rich in microbial matter. Photo courtesy: Edama / KAUST
By transforming organic rubbish into valuable input products for desert agriculture, landscaping and gardening, the startup aims to address both environmental pollution and plant cultivation in arid regions. Edama can reduce ecological threats and public health by diverting organic waste from landfills, a shift that will aid the sustainable development of Saudi Arabia's growing cities, mega-projects and Vision 2030 recycling targets while also providing soil improvers, which are in high demand due to the recently established Saudi Green Initiative (SGI). SGI will require massive amounts of high-quality soil improvers, as the government plans to plant 10 billion trees in desert soils.
Dr. Sabrina Vettori, Edama Organic Solutions CEO and co-founder, stated, "At Edama, we believe that sustainable development of our cities can be achieved through efficient management of our resources. By turning organic waste into a resource for restoring our soils, we contribute to improving water management, increase desert agriculture productivity and enable the realization of land restoration and tree plantation projects."
Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC) has recently awarded Edama the opportunity to design, build and operate their next organic waste recycling facility on a much larger scale. Along with the new facility, Edama will expand upon its critical work as they help prepare the Kingdom and MENA region to respond to significant growth and food demand over the coming decades.
KAUST's support and mentoring throughout their various initiatives has helped Edama grow from a lab-based startup into a leading provider of organic waste recycling solutions for arid environments. As a world leader in sustainable technologies, KAUST remains focused on cutting-edge solutions to diversify the economy in KSA while contributing to a more sustainable future.