Arab Gulf recycles paper, plastic, and cars!

UAE first car recycling plant

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) does everything big, including recycling, and this week they’ve officially opened their first plant dedicated to recycling cars! An estimated 11,000 UAE vehicles get scrapped every month.

Some simply reach their shelf-life, others are abandoned at airport parking lots and city back streets by debt-ridden expatriates and native boys who no longer can pay for their luxury toys.

Now all that automotive litter will be put to better use: “This is the only facility today that can deal with end-of-life vehicles in the country. We encourage insurance companies, dealers and government departments to use this service,” said Najib Faris, chief commercial officer of Bee’ah, the plant operator.

Dumped cars will be manually dismantled, then sliced and diced to allow valuable metals to be salvaged, and plastics, tires, upholstery, cables and mechanical parts to be recycled or refurbished within the Bee’ah compound.  Previously, old clunkers were sold to scrap dealers, who stripped off spare parts and sold the car carcasses on the international market.

Workers separate cables, which are sent to electronic waste traders, and foam cushions that can be recycled locally. Window glass is pulverized and used for landfill cover. The company aims to sell engines and transmissions to international companies that refurbish them.

The facility began trial operations in October and has already processed about 350 old cars.  Its capacity is much greater;  Darker El Rabaya, director of waste processing at Bee’ah, told The National that its “shredder” (the equipment for processing car bodies) has a capacity of 60 vehicles an hour.

“Recycling consumes a lot less energy and a lot less water than producing virgin materials,” said Faris. It also diverts waste from landfills.

While the facility is now technically ready, a key issue for the next few months is to ensure a steady supply. As long as car dumping remains an Emirati epidemic, that ought not be a problem.

We’ve heard that some Emiratis prefer to just abandon unwanted cars, even Mercedes, Jags and BMWs at the airport, rather than get them scrapped. This initiative could change that.

Image of the Bee’ah “shredder” from The National

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