No time to waste: Expo 2020 Dubai unveils major recycling plan

Eco-friendly initiative sets out to divert 85 per cent of waste at sprawling site away from landfill

Expo 2020 Dubai aims to be good for the environment as well as the economy. Courtesy Expo 2020 Dubai    
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Expo 2020 Dubai isn't just set to provide a major economic boost for the emirate - it aims to enhance the environment, too.

Organic waste from the sprawling Expo 2020 Dubai South site will be converted into fertiliser, construction material will be reused in roads and the plastic and glass will be turned into memorabilia for visitors as part of an eco-friendly recycling initiative already taking shape more than a year out from the start of the world fair.

A partnership between Expo 2020 Dubai and UAE firm Dulsco will ensure that 85 per cent of waste from the site will be diverted from landfill.

As part of the bold Expo 2020 vision, 10 composters will be placed near the kitchen areas to treat food waste that will be used as fertiliser to green the 4.38 sqkm area that will include pavilions, exhibition and science centres, play areas and walking tracks.

The team is evaluating whether organic waste will be converted into energy on site as part of assessments being carried out.

"We are working to find innovative solutions to handling waste because we have ambitious targets and our main aim is to recycle and reuse," said Ayesha Al Marzooqi, who works with the Expo 2020 Dubai Real Estate and Delivery team.


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“Locally and regionally we will work with companies so the waste can be turned into new products that you can use in daily life like t-shirts, bags, gift boxes, cup holders and plant pots.”

A facility is being built at the Dubai South site by Dulsco to segregate the waste and will be operational by the end of the year.

“It’s a great opportunity to turn waste into valuable resources like having plastics granulated and turned back potentially into apparel, uniforms, t-shirts. That is an enormous step forward from traditionally using virgin material to produce this,” said David Stockton, chief executive of Dulsco.

“This is a fantastic collaboration to come together for Expo. Some products like glass will be separated and go to a different part of Dubai to a small and medium enterprise to be turned into an item that can be sold at the expo.  Construction material, concrete and steel will be repurposed in our facilities in Umm Al Quwain and Ajman into road-based material.”

Campaigns will also be run in schools and colleges that will also touch on career opportunities in environmental sustainability.

The Expo 2020 Dubai team has set its targets far higher than the last world fair in Milan that achieved 67 per cent diversion rate from landfill.

The world fair will attract 25 million visits between October 2020 and April 2021, with 70 per cent visitors expected from outside the UAE.

This is the first such event to be hosted in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region.