Bridging the gap

Recycling has been a relatively new phenomenon in UAE. It is slowly gaining momentum as you can frequently spot recycle bins at the malls, bus stops and these days even near schools. There are charity boxes where you can dispose your clothes, toys and there are also a few classified services like and where you can sell your old stuff for cash or also free.

However, there are alarming reports from everywhere about the amount of wastes that UAE generates in the world, and that it is the largest producer of household waste among the GCC countries except Saudi Arabia.The saddest part is that, most of the items that are going to the trash are recyclable.  Every news article on this topic starts with the fact that on an average, every person in the UAE makes 2.5 kg of waste a day and that sums up to an astounding 1000 kg per annum. While the government is advising people to separate trash at their homes, there are many people complaining that they have no clue about where to go about discarding their recyclable waste. Most of the recycle bins are kept in malls and bus stops where no one would bother to take their garbage and sort it out in a public place. Only a few residential areas have the luxury of recycle bins near their homes and it is going to be a mammoth task installing such bins across the country for each and every home. We also come across things like a garbage chute that will separate recyclable materials at the push of a button. While this is going to make a difference for sure, there is much more to be done when it comes to making it a habit for people to start separating at their own homes. Plans like paying up for trash are also mulled by the government, but I wonder if punishing people than rewarding will be of any help.

I have a friend from Abu Dhabi who happens to be a very active blogger in Tamil. Being passionate about recycling, she has the habit of sorting her waste and collected a huge pile of recyclable materials and called one such waste management company to take them out. Despite being proactive on recycling and making an honest effort to do her part, she was only faced with disappointment when a lot of companies refused to pick up the materials. Finally, she had a truck coming in to collect the items but to her dismay, all those items were collected along with the non recyclable waste.

She is not alone in this regard. On my quest to understand about what is going on with recycling in the UAE, I came across many posts and comments from people on news articles about how some of them are feeling helpless about recycling their wastes in this country, especially from where many complain that people just don’t sort out between recyclables and non recyclables and even if they do, they all get mixed up when the pick up truck comes to take them.  Apparently, the route to recycle in this part of the world of full many obstacles, as can be seen from the below articles.

  • On Feb 2010 in Abu Dhabi, the Municipality ordered for the removal of the recycle bins at Spinneys.
  • Here is an article from The National how the recycle route is full of obstacles at the capital.
  • Someone who wonders on dubaiforums where to put all the recyclable materials collected.

To tell the truth, I haven’t done my part on recycling yet since I don’t find any recycle bins in my area nor do I have the motivation to take the trash all the way to the recycle bins at some bus stop or a malls. I have been very particular about reducing my consumption and reusing many things that would normally be thrown away, but I know this is just not enough. Our grocery is confined to fresh foods and limited amounts of toiletries, so our family doesn’t make that much amount of waste. Yet, I have a bag full of plastic bottles, cans and tetra pak covers that I collected within a week’s time when I made up my mind to a bit for recycling.

Its high time I start looking for some bins in my area. What about you?





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