Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: A green future for Dubai

Filed on November 1, 2020

The waste-to-energy projects should not eclipse the opportunity to improve the recycling industry.

Cities can be a part of the environmental solution. In fact, come to think of it our urban spaces allow a greener way of life compared with suburbs or countryside where lack of infrastructure and amenities denies the probability of recycling or conversion into energy. When sustainability is at the heart of urban planning, change happens. Dubai’s quest to improve the standard of living in the emirates has been guided by this principle, and as it looks to become an ideal eco-city in the region and beyond, it is investing billions to make the city more sustainable, while allowing the residents to enjoy the luxuries that can only be afforded in an urban space. With the new set of projects Dubai is hoping to offer its residents an ecosystem that influences change in their habits, way of living, and makes them more eco-conscious. City planners are adding eight million square meters of green spaces and gardens within the emirate’s residential and commercial areas through 29 new projects to promote physical and mental well-being of residents. It is also developing more beaches and adding 12 kilometers of space along the beach for running and cycling.

Besides, there is a move towards reducing the waste sent to landfills and use it to generate energy. By treating waste of a thousand garbage trucks per day, Dubai would be able to generate clean energy for at least 135,000 homes. Waste-into-energy technology can limit pollution and methane emissions, providing a low-carbon alternative source of energy, and also reduce landfill dependency. Almost 11 million tonnes of waste is generated in the UAE every year and most of it finds its way to the landfills, including recyclable materials. As laudable as this project is, it also highlights the lack of garbage segregation infrastructure in the emirates. And without any clear directive or guidance from policymakers, there is not much seriousness at the domestic level too in sorting out the trash before it is thrown in chutes or trash bins. The waste-to-energy projects should not eclipse the opportunity to improve the recycling industry in Dubai. The real estate and construction industry could perhaps play a vital part in this drive by offering residential buildings options to segregate waste at homes. Decomposable kitchen trash should be segregated right in kitchens and disposed of in areas that can turn them into composts. New buildings in Sweden, for instance, have introduced this concept. Greener future needs both approaches to complement each other. The UAE’s National Agenda is to reduce the landfill by 75 per cent in coming years. The country seems on track to achieve it.

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