Emirates Environmental Group leads in recycling

ABU DHABI — Tonnes of recyclable materials are filling up UAE landfills every year. Although the government has initiated several environmental projects, there isn't a recycling system for the public yet.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 8 Aug 2006, 10:16 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:05 PM

The only organisation involved in recycling is a voluntary, non-governmental one, called Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) but it doesn't have the logistics and resources to work directly with the public.

Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of EEG, said that the NGO has recycling programmes throughout the Emirates but it only works with schools, private companies and institutions.

EEG started recycling cans in 1997. In 2001 it introduced paper recycling and from last year it is recycling plastic and glass materials too.

"In Abu Dhabi, we have only over 40 centres set up in primary, general and high schools as well as universities. We also have recycling containers or bins at companies like Dolphin Energy or Shell, as well as the Japanese, British and other embassies," said Marashi.

The containers and bins are colour-coded: red is for aluminium cans, green is for paper and blue is for plastic. "We only ask a small fee for installation, but then the collection is free," mentioned the EEG chairperson.

In order to encourage companies and institutions to reduce their waste, EEG is organising annual recycling competitions. This prompts people to bring materials from home to their place of work or study.

Marashi said EEG collected 644,000 kilos of recycling materials last year with Dubai and Abu Dhabi as hubs.

The collection of these materials is done by the private sector. Once collected, the paper, glass, cans and plastic are sold to local recycling factories or exported.

"Apart from being a vital environmental project, this is actually quite a good business," she said.

According to her, though there is no commitment from the public, EEG has already tried installing recycling devices in public areas but they were destroyed and ordinary garbage was mixed up with recycling materials.

This is due to lack of education on this environmental issue, she added. International decomposition charts show that a newspaper takes one month to decompose, a cotton cloth takes six months, a tin will decompose in no less than a hundred years, while a glass bottle will take a minimum 500 years.

Lands all over the world are being filled up with with non-biodegradable items.

Burning them was not an option since toxins would create both air and land pollution.

So recycling is the only viable solution. In recent years, governments of well-developed countries introduced more and more recycling projects and initiated wide educational programmes on the issue.

Supermarkets, one of the largest producers of waste, have started introducing recyclable packaging and plastic bags. Marashi felt it was time for the government to get involved in recycling programmes.

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