GNcareers, from Gulf News

Waste not, want not

Waste managementImage Credit: Gulf News Archives/Ahmed Ramzan

With a rapidly growing population and escalating urbanisation, waste management in the UAE is under tremendous pressure. Today, the UAE ranks among the top waste producers in the world, generating approximately 2.5kg of waste per person every day.

As the urban trash grows at an alarming rate, the government has spared no effort to address the challenges relating to waste management and recycling, initiating various projects in the past few years to dispose of waste responsibly. Experts, however, say that along with the government, residents and businesses also need to play their part to solve the country's waste management issues.

Dubai Municipality has recently launched the second stage of the My City, My Environment initiative in Jumeirah 1, 2 and 3, Al Safa 1 and 2, Umm Suqeim 1, 2 and 3, Al Barsha 2 and 3, Al Manara and Umm AI Seif to encourage residents to integrate sustainable solutions to waste management in their homes.

Considering that segregation is the most important step in waste management and recycling, Dubai Municipality has started to distribute two 240-litre, colour-coded bins to houses in different neighbourhoods as part of this initiative.

Each bin carries clear instructions to help residents separate waste. The green bins are meant for recyclables such as plastic containers, cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, books, papers, glass, aluminium and metal cans and beverage bottles. The black-coloured bins are meant for general waste.

Garbage collectors pick up general waste daily and recyclables on alternate days.

Dulsco, a waste management service provider, is a supporter of the My City, My Environment campaign.

"For residents not covered by this project, Dulsco offers collection of recyclables as part of our Recycle to Regain campaign. By simply dialing 800-waste, residents can request for their recyclables to be collected," says S. Madhumohan, Director of Dulsco Waste Management Services. "Dubai Municipality’s My City, My Environment campaign has ensured almost 100 per cent recycling in areas such as Jumeirah. AI Safa, Umm Suqeim, AI Barsha and Nad AI Hamar. Owing to the awareness being spearheaded by local authorities, many residents have actively taken to recycling.

"Dulsco provides community collection in AI Karama, AI Qusais and Dubai Sports City among others, and the response has been tremendous."

In line with Sharjah's long-term goal of zero waste on its landfills, waste management firm Bee'ah rolled out the Middle East's first residential recycling programme in February 2012. The large-scale programme allows residents to separate and recycle their waste at home.

Dual-coloured blue and green bins were distributed and a state-of-the-art collection and cleaning equipment was introduced. A door-to-door awareness campaign was also organised.

"According to our data, the domestic recycling rate in Sharjah has increased from 438 tons in 2010 to 3,713 tons by the end of 2012-the year the residential recycling programme was rolled out,'' says Meera Taryam, Director of Environmental Services and Education at Bee'ah. "The biggest contributor to this increase has been paper and cardboard recycling, which saw a 582 per cent increase from 2010 to 2012. Second is aluminium with a 366 per cent increase. followed by a 135 per cent increase in plastic recycling."

Since the launch of the residential recycling programme, more than 5,000 residential villas and low-rise buildings have received the dual-coloured blue and green bins for the separation of recyclables and general waste, covering more than 60 per cent of the urban population of Sharjah and diverting 990 tons of waste from the landfills.

"Recycling is still a new concept to many," says 'Jaryam, adding that because of diverse backgrounds, recycling is more or less popular in some groups and areas than others. "We conducted a survey and found 40 per cent of Sharjah residents want to recycle, but need the tools to do so. This is why Bee'ah was established in 2007.

“It has provided residents with the tools to help manage their waste, and that is vital to close the recycling loop and help make our country a better, cleaner and healthier place to live in."

It's not just government agencies who are pushing the boundaries on sustainable waste management and recycling transportation service provider, was launched in Dubai to support communities in their recycling efforts.

The company provides waste bins to households for all types of recyclable items. Green Truck visits members’ homes once a week to pick up recyclable waste and deliver it to various recycling facilities in the UAE.

“The UAE Government and the private sector have put together a number of initiatives and processes to make our communities more sustainable and help protect the environment,” says Diya Khalil, Founder and Manager of Green Truck. “This service is one of the solutions that will complement other ongoing efforts, designed to fulfil a need in the market for recycling solutions dedicate to servicing individual households in villa communities.

“It will also encourage more households to recycle without having to worry about timely disposal.”

Although Green Truck has launched the service in Dubai, it plans to expand in Abu Dhabi and other emirates. It also plans to include residential apartments in the campaign.

Green Truck currently serves more than 50 households in various communities in Dubai for a fee of Dh100 per month.

Reducing waste at home
1. Plastic bags pose a hurdle to sustainable waste management. When you go grocery shopping, bring reusable shopping bags.
2. Choose products with less packaging. Invest in durable items rather than disposable goods.
3. Reuse bottles, plastic containers and glass jars.
4. Learn to make your own cleaning products.
5. Recycle household items. Try to creatively repurpose items that you normally throw away.

Source: Chiranti Sengupta, Features Writer, Property Weekly