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23 May 2024

Recycling could become mandatory for every UAE household by 2014

By Bindu Suresh Rai

A new waste management draft law is currently being drawn up to make provisions for a sustainable economy in the immediate feature, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water.

Not ruling out on the plan is a standardised recycling initiative that will be applicable to every household by 2014, aiming to vastly reduce the reported 5 million tonnage of waste the country produces annually.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7 at the Wednesday’s ‘Clean Up The Gulf’ drive organised by Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, explained the long-term plan was a to create a five-year shift into a more sustainable economy.

“The aim is to create a value-added waste management programme within the region, with the UAE already pioneering in this drive with a new draft law being drawn up to add new provisions to the Federal Law No 24 for the protection and the development of the environment,” he said.

Continuing, Dr Fahad said: “We have highlighted some of the many challenges that the initiative is facing currently and have started the process to include these in the new draft law, which will be submitted to the Federal National Council of the UAE by year-end.

“One of the many challenges highlighted is a gap in the recycling initiatives in place, which we are hoping to overcome with the provisions we have drawn up that will target every household in the UAE.”

When quizzed further whether recycling will become a mandate for every UAE household by 2014, Dr Fahad did not rule it out, saying: “We are working on a standardised recycling plan, which should apply to every home in the country making it mandatory, yes. But the initiative will only come into play with a fair public awareness campaign to educate residents on the benefits of recycling.”

Managing waste

According to the GPCA, the GCC alone produces 82 million tonnes of waste annually, with the UAE contributing to five million of that number.

Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, said: “Only eight per cent of that 5m tonnes is actually recycled, while the rest of the waste finding its way into a landfill. In most developed countries, up to 70 per cent of that waste makes it into a recycling centre.

“What is needed is a way to add value to waste management policies that will work as a driver for every household to come on board this initiative.”

In most European countries and North America, plastic and glass bottles can be recycled with a minimal cash-back policy, which Dr Sadoun said was a great incentive to bring into play in the UAE.

“Public awareness and education is key,” he stressed. “However, putting such initiatives into practical life requires time and monetary investment.”

When asked about the initial investment required to overhaul the system, Dr Sadoun remained non committal, adding: “Any system, when setting up from scratch, requires a large monetary figure to roll it out as a policy.

“But the government and the policy makers can soon see a return on this investment; within five years I should say.

“Take a plastic bottle; after it is recycled two to three times and it can be broken down and used as an alternative fuel source. The avenues are there, it’s just a matter of policy and change.”