Reducing waste is need of the hour in Dubai
Work in progress in the garbage recycling unit at the Beeah recycling plan in Sharjah.
Dubai - "After 60 years of disposing all their trash in one basket, they're not going to easily change to the idea of two bins."
Landfills in Dubai, or rather, the ONE landfill in Dubai, is filling up quickly. Reason: Lack of recycling, and plenty of resistance to the idea of recycling.
"Soon we could find ourselves in garbage," warned Naji Al Radhi, Head of Waste Treatment Section, Waste Management Section, Dubai Municipality, at a panel discussion ahead of the Middle East Cleaning Technology Week (November 2 to 4) on "Sustainable Today, Better Tomorrow. "We need to sustain the only place we have now (the landfill at Ghusais), and in general we need to reduce our waste."
Hotels, malls not doing enough?
Tissues, plastic bottles, plastic wrappers - the next time you're in a hotel, take a moment to examine the amount of trash being generated.
To give you an idea, John H Colley, Chairman of Intercare, a cleaning and hygiene company, said a hotel with 250 rooms, and that functions at 65 per cent average occupancy, wastes 82 tonnes of plastic every year.
One reason for that massive figure is the refusal of hotels to shift to soap dispensers. All half-used miniature tubes and bottles of shampoo and conditioner and body lotion go to waste. Colley says he'd met with hotel chains over a decade ago here to sell them the idea of soap and shampoo dispensers. But in Dubai, the concern is more about branding - how will people staying at the hotel know that they're using, say, a Bvlgari or a Chanel cosmetic? This is why dispensers in hotels never really took off till date even though sleek designs in stainless steel are easily available. Even today, hotels waste as much as 82 tonnes of plastic.
Public sector generation of waste is a problem. In malls and hotels, the transportation cost of responsible disposal of waste doesn't sit neatly with cost cutting measures. Dubai Municipality is trying to incentivise the public sector - even though the vending machines that took back glass and soda bottles and paid you in turn didn't really work here, Al Radhi admits. "For some reason people were not interested."
But some headway is reportedly being made under the My City, My Dubai campaign, where prizes are given to 'best house in the area'. Al Radhi seemed to imply that old time residents of Dubai are too set in their ways. "After 60 years of disposing all their trash in one basket, they're not going to easily change to the idea of two bins," he said.
Segregation: A not so distant dream
Two waste segregation plants are coming up, one in Ghusais, and one in Al Ain. "One is almost ready," Al Radhi said.
The goal for the next two years is to cut the rubbish. By 2021, for every 1,000 tonnes of garbage generated, 75 per cent of that will NOT go to a landfill, and instead be recycled. Which means that much more free space in landfills, and that is good news.