Recycling – an environmentalists’ nightmare

DUBAI - Public apathy, combined with a lack of awareness, has made recycling in Dubai an environmentalists' nightmare

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Mon 6 Sep 2004, 9:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:44 PM

The current volume of waste generation makes Dubai one of the highest per capita waste generation city in the world, making the need for recycling extremely imperative. Local environmentalists say that unless the public proactively participates and supports recycling projects, a major crisis may soon be in the making.

"I'm not trying to sound like a doomsday prophet here, but unless there is greater empathy amongst people for conserving our natural resources, there will be little left for our children," said Gerry Sherard, a scriptwriter and environmentalist. "Recycling and planting more forests will definitely avert such a crisis but people need to start thinking about such issues more seriously," he added.

The waste stream in general has been showing a sharp growth level in Dubai since the last decade. Heaving landfill sites filled with waste products of all types is now a common sight.

"What people lose is focus. They only see their short-term gains as opposed to what is good for the economy and the environment as a whole. Simple things such as segregating your plastics from your paper and recycling them will help the environment a great deal," said Mr Sherard.

Though present in the UAE for many years, recycling has yet to catch on as a regular habit amongst residents here. Much of the green waste such as trees, flowers and plants, for instance, which are being cut everyday for development projects, can be converted into compost.

"Everyday thousands of tonnes of green waste is being thrown away, which can be recycled into compost. In fact, the UAE can become self-sufficient in compost production by just utilising this green waste," he said.

In a bid to encourage recycling habits amongst residents, recycling companies are now inciting consumers to join in the effort by providing them with incentives. A case in point is a new recycling machine produced by a Norwegian company, Tomra, which will be introduced in the Middle East for the first time soon.

Scratch 'N' Win coupons will be offered to all consumers who bring in 10-15 containers of beverage cans for recycling. "People don't even have to segregate their cans as the machine will be able to recognise the difference and will place the cans in separate containers. These will then be sent to different companies to be recycled into different end products," said Derek Robson, Technical Manager of Nordic House, a company promoting the product locally.

The machine will be placed in different Emaraat petrol pumps throughout the UAE for easy access for people.

Another novel idea of helping the environment is through the use of 'eco-wood', a synthetic form of wood made by recycling plastics. " This one process of plastics being converted into wood can reverse the whole process of the greenhouse effect as fewer trees will be cut for different purposes. It looks like wood, feels like it and even has a nice aesthetic finish to it. We need to promote such products as they are the key in our battle to save the environment," said Mr Sherard. Eco-wood can be used to build furniture, fences and even school desks.

Mr Sherard was also quick to point out the imperative need for people to be more environmentally conscious.

"Already we are seeing mother nature's retaliation through constant flooding and hurricanes in some parts of the world. We should put our pretty differences aside and start working towards building a better future for our children," he said.

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