It's a dirty job...
Separation at source is the way forward, says Kathryn Hanson, commercial director, ENVAC Middle East.
Separating waste at source can ensure there's no contact with the dirty, unhygienic and potentially dangerous waste that is generated on a daily basis throughout the UAE. The non-recyclable materials can be collected separately and transported directly to the landfill or an incineration plant.
In this hot and humid climate, which in itself is a breeding ground for bacteria and airborne diseases, waste also putrefies making for an unattractive working environment for those in waste management.
Where there is separation at source there will be an improved working environment and general standard of living, than those who have to manually sort through the waste to retrieve the recyclable material.
Cheap labour in the UAE is now becoming a thing of the past, with an approximate 10% inflation rate. By putting the onus on the end user to undertake the task of separating their recyclables, the costs associated with recycling will be reduced.
Environmental awareness is required by all. With all the problems associated with global warming and carbon footprints, each person should be doing their part to negate the effect that their everyday lives have on the world.
By offering waste separation at source it will allow individuals to contribute in the fight against climate change and embrace the Environmental Protection Plan introduced by the government of Dubai.
Encouraging recycling by individuals may pose to be a huge challenge, but this can be lessened if the facilities are made easily accessible and education is provided on the benefits of recycling.
Separation at source can be executed at a number of levels. From separating non-recyclables/recyclables and the recyclables into different types such as glass, paper, food and green waste and plastics, to separating the different types of glass, paper and plastics.
Although I agree with waste separation at source there has to be a limit in how far the individual should be expected to segregate. Too many choices may result in confusion and ultimately cross-contamination, not to mention the amount of space required within a person's home or within their building to support full separation.
Recyclable materials such as paper, glass and plastics are what are considered 'clean' waste and the sorting of these would not be such an undesirable working environment.
This clean waste has a monetary value associated with it. Companies will often pay to collect 'clean' recyclable materials from developments as they realize the monetary value, whereas there are haulage and landfill costs associated with non-recyclable waste.
It is refreshing to see that the UAE, a 36 year young country, is already falling in line with pushing environment awareness and is now recognizing the importance of recycling. And for a country that has one of the highest waste generations per capita, the issue of recycling is even more important.
Recycling has been embraced by North and South Europe for a number of years so far as residential areas and roads, for example, are now using recycled goods as part of their raw materials.
One solution to waste management is by transporting it underground by vacuum to a centralized location up to 2km from the development. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with waste collection due to the reduction in the number of trucks required to service the development.
As a completely sealed system there are no odors or spillages and by having separation at source, it ensures that the waste is transported directly from the individual to a sealed container and eliminates any manual handling.
Kathryn Hanson is the editor of facilites management Middle East.