Dubai Dumps its Dumps

birds at a landfill siteThousands of Emirati families have been clearing space for their brand new recycling bins, distributed as part of a new waste management program started this month.

Dubai Municipality is growing a culture of recycling in both national and expat residents by providing almost 4,000 families with bins for separating household waste. Bin recipients were taught basic recycling principles; families and their maids learned to segregate household waste into food and non-food containers. Collection is via three private waste companies, and the service is free for residents.

Neighboring Sharjah already beat them to the punch, launching a similar project in February, and last year, Green Prophet told you how Abu Dhabi distributed solar-powered recycling bins throughout the capital.

The Abu Dhabi containers house solar panels that power illuminated advertising panels built into bin casings:  the idea is to catch public attention while demonstrating the link between recycling and energy.

recycling bin

Dubai leads the Emirates in per capita trash generating about 2.8 kg of waste each day.

Their project, named “My city…my environment,” was  initially rolled-out in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment. If successful, this one-year trial project will be expanded to all Dubai homes, underscoring the Municipality’s ambitious vision to recycle all of its municipal waste, achieving zero landfills by 2030.

The government isn’t alone in their efforts to lessen the burden on Dubai’s dumps.

For 20 years, The Emirates Environment Group (EEG) has conjured up practical solutions to protect Dubai’s environment, raising awareness and attracting community involvement. Their Waste Management & Recycling Project Group has set up recycling centers and conduct regular recycling collection drives for aluminum, paper, plastic, glass, batteries and toner cartridges.

Private companies also contribute to positive change. Before municipal alternatives existed, grocery chain Spinneys led the way by providing customers with recycling facilities for aluminum cans, paper and plastic bottles. This supermarket retailer has stores throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with locations in Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Egypt and the UAE.  In each location they demonstrate a strong corporate social responsibility: handing out biodegradable plastic shopping bags and offering fabric totes for sale.  I wish they’d step it up and ban use of plastic bags altogether.  Perhaps even spearhead a MENA-wide boycott on the poisonous things, but their green efforts to date have been solid.

Emirati’s popular string of gas stations, Emarat, has installed 32 “reverse vending machines” at 16 service stations. These machines can sort, recycle and process a total of 25 tons of waste each year. When users deposit their cans and bottles, the machines dispense raffle coupons that put recyclers in the running to win prizes.

Can any prize-winners tell us if the prizes are sustainable?

Dubai generates 7,800 tons of waste every day. Landfills currently receive 19% of the Emirates’ plastic and paper waste, 6% of its metals, and 3% of its discarded wood.

Dubai boasts Guinness World Records for tallest building, tallest hotel, longest indoor ski run and thickest plate glass wall in an aquarium, to name just a fraction of their dubai-ous achievements. Maybe they can be lured to another world record for quickest end run to zero landfills in an Arab state.

(Image from Wikipedia Commons, Photo by William I. Boarman, United States Geological Survey; bin by Stephen Lock, The National.)

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