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UAE urged to change recycling mindset

Dubai – ‘Plastic waste should not be regarded as waste but as a resource,’ Surendra Borad, Chairman of the BIR world recycling organisation’s Plastics Committee, has told the Paper and Plastics Recycling Middle East Conference. Together with several other speakers, he pointed out that there are still some challenges ahead to encourage businesses as well as the public in the United Arab Emirates to embrace recycling.

More than 38.5 million kg of plastic electronic waste is generated worldwide on an annual basis, the United Nations reported in 2011. The large volume of plastic waste entering the UAE prompted the government to implement regulations in August last year to prohibit shipments of metal, plastic and paper scrap from the EU.

This move is ‘detrimental’ because it deprives the UAE of valuable resources, argued Mr Borad at the Dubai event. ‘Instead of banning the scrap, pre-inspections should be carried out to prevent low-quality materials from being imported, which will encourage more products to be made from recyclable plastic.’

To bring about a ‘decisive change in mindsets’ on the issue of recycling, a large-scale educational programme involving schools, governments and the media is required, noted Saeed Bin Gobash of Enpark, a company aiming to facilitate the growth of the energy and environment sector in the Middle East. Businesses in the area are sceptical but the ‘trickier task’ is to change the public’s perception of sustainability, he contended.

Enpark has partnered with Averdet to set up 15 vending machines for Dubai residents to recycle their aluminium cans in return for air miles. The intention is to carry out a survey of the effectiveness of the vending machine campaign later this year, with plans to install more machines if the results are satisfactory.

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