Recycling awareness not strong enough

Landfill transformed from dumping ground to waste management facility. But are landfills the solution?

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management

Under a joint agreement with the Sharjah Municipality, Emirates Environmental Technology (EET) has led a remediation project to transform a landfill into a waste management facility.

"It was a typical dumping ground until we took over the management. We developed office spaces, recruited a total of 110 workers and created health and safety guidelines. We have also constructed a maintenance and hazardous waste area with 24-hour security to monitor the site," said Reinhard Göschl, general director, EET.

Every effort must be made to encourage the three 'R's' -  reduce, reuse and recycle.

Although the landfill under the EET has seen an improvement, efficient waste management and recycling is perceived to be a problem in the Middle East. So how is the region tackling the issue?

According to Martin Schröder, managing director, Enpro, landfills are an option for waste disposal but are not effective solutions. He said: "Waste output from a sorting line will never be higher than 15%. Up to 80% of waste is going into the landfill, so what's the point? Landfills in the UAE are mostly harmful.

"You will find that the number one cause of methane gas emissions are landfills."

Steve Williams, operations manager, Dulsco, agrees that more needs to be done if the region is to execute an efficient waste system. "As a waste collection operator, we experience severe problems with road restrictions for our vehicles and various difficulties with disposal. Many of these problems we have to overcome at short notice, which affects our customers by delaying the collection of waste."

An encouraging sign for FMs, is forward thinking developers who are considering recycling and waste management at the design stage.

"Property developers are beginning to take into consideration the idea of recycling and are seeking advice from waste management consultants at design stage," said Sasha Doran, senior facilities consultant, EC Harris.

Recycling initiatives and campaigns are positive steps towards a greener UAE.

An environmental campaign by EnviroFone, intends to persuade the public to recycle old and unused phones. Earlier this year, Carrefour launched a reusable bag policy, to create awareness and has since sold up to 600,000 reusable bags in the Middle East.

Globus Incorporated's Go Green campaign encourages recycling office waste within several companies in the region. "Recycling awareness is stronger now. Many companies now have initiatives to promote effective disposal of office waste. This is not just a campaign, it's a corporate social responsibility programme," said Hitten Desai, managing director, Globus Incorporated.

"Every effort must be made to encourage the three ‘R's' - reduce, reuse and recycle. This will hugely decrease the amount of waste being sent to landfills. Currently it is not possible to recycle every material and item produced, therefore landfills are still a necessary option," added Doran.

The landfill in Sharjah currently includes a recycling plant for construction and demolition waste and a sorting plant.

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