Turning leftovers into fertilisers, animal feed: How Dubai Municipality is tackling food waste

The civic body collects approximately 4,000 tonnes of wasted food each year


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 1 Oct 2023, 2:21 PM

Last updated: Sun 1 Oct 2023, 4:28 PM

A prominent hotel group in Dubai measures the amount of food that is wasted within its premises using artificial intelligence tools and then goes back to the drawing board to check how this can be minimised.

Their experience was one of the many that were shared during an education session about food waste and loss by Dubai Municipality (DM).

The civic body collects approximately 4,000 tonnes of wasted food each year, which includes vegetables, fruits, and expired or inedible food items. These are then repurposed into sustainable alternatives including organic fertilisers or animal feed.

These products are subsequently recycled into organic fertilisers. In 2023 alone, DM gifted 70.5 tonnes of food to the Emirates Food Bank and repurposed almost 400 tonnes of food material.

This is in line with Dubai's food security plan, which will diversify import sources, boost local production, reduce food loss and waste, and maintain food safety. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food loss and waste exceeds 30 per cent of worldwide produced food.

"Dubai Municipality hopes to significantly reduce the negative environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint of the food and agriculture industry through such initiatives," said Dawoud Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality.

Awareness sessions

The session organized by DM brought together over 50 decision-makers from food institutions, public and academic authorities, and food institutions participating. Also, presenting at the session was local startup 'The Waste Lab' that educated companies on how to segregate waste and donate food waste to effectively recycle them.

In addition to this, several events were organised in schools engaging with over 5,000 students. In observance of the International Day of Food Loss and Waste, the events were aimed at educating children and their parents on the importance of reducing food waste and promoting optimal food safety practices.

Guide for retail food companies

DM has also produced a guide for retail food companies, to educate them about food loss and waste reduction. Instructional materials have also been handed out to food importers and exporters to improve supply chain effectiveness.

The Municipality organized various educational and scientific initiatives through specialist seminars to reduce food loss along the supply and manufacturing chain and to minimise waste at food facilities and retail establishments.

They also worked with hospitality and catering businesses to emphasise the necessity of turning food waste or by-products into higher-value products, which helps to improve the food supply chain.


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