This story has been produced in collaboration with Kibsons International
Food lovers across the UAE have ramped up their recycling efforts with an eco-friendly campaign by Kibsons.
Earlier this month, the online fresh foods delivery service, synonymous for its blue cardboard boxes, urged customers to pledge their love for the planet by getting rid of their household plastic more responsibly.
The ‘Environment, be my Valentine’ initiative was launched to prompt customers to become more conscious about single-use plastic consumption.
In return for cash prizes and upcycled gifts, the Kibsons team invited its community to give back their clean plastic along with its empty delivery boxes for recycling.
“We firmly believe in reducing plastic consumption all together, but recycling is often the first step on that journey,” Halima Jumani, director of operations said.
“The campaign is very close to our hearts and allows customers to take a step back and see how much packaging they are using for everyday items.
“It is an authentic source to deal with the issue of recycling.
“So far, we have had an overwhelming response and have received and recycled more than double the amount of plastic that was returned to us in January.”
At the end of this month, the top ten donors with the highest plastic collections will be awarded a Dh1,000 cash prize each. In collaboration with Eco Plastic Industries, a company that makes furniture out of recycled materials, the top 100 customers will also receive a flower pot created from the very plastic that Kibsons helped save from landfill.
“Rewarding good behaviour works,” Ms Jumani said.
“When people see the tangible results of recycling, it tends to make more of an impact.
“If we succeed in making this plastic collection successful we will certainly look to extend it beyond February.
Typically, Ms Jumani said the food sector is associated with producing a lot of waste, be it from produce or packaging, so it is important to look at how they can make a difference.
With Kibsons looking to turn the tide on that industry reputation, she said its anti-plastic campaign is just one mechanism towards supporting their green cause.
In 2018, the company waved goodbye to single-use plastic bags.
“All our packaging is now paper but a small percentage of our suppliers are still using plastic so we are in discussions with them to seek alternative options," she said.
“We are totally aware of the fact that in this industry plastic is used to preserve produce in transit.
“Sadly, it’s a necessary evil to reduce food wastage."
“Right now the industry can’t cut plastic use all together, but it is about looking at serious ways to reduce it.”
Internally, Kibsons has also implemented a number of additional sustainable operations to reduce its carbon footprint.
This month, its new water recycling plant started to operate and is on track to recycle more than 75 per cent of the water needed to keep its cold storage facility running.
In March last year, the company also moved to a new 130,000 square foot facility to help facilitate its efforts towards reducing electricity consumption.
With enough roof space to fit ample amounts of solar panels, the long-term aim is to harness the sun to generate up to 50 per cent of the electricity needed to run the warehouse.
“This is a testimony of our commitment to being a more responsible business,” Ms Jumani said.
“If you switch on the news today and see what is happening around the world you quickly realise this is no longer a choice but a necessity for our planet.
“We know we’ve got a lot left to do, which is why these issues are our number one priority right now.
"We are confident we’re in a position to make our processes kinder on the planet.”
With a refrigerated fleet of more than 100 trucks on the UAE’s roads, she said biofuel is another huge area of focus for Kibsons.
“We cannot switch off these mobile fridges as they help to preserve the food we deliver," she said.
"Therefore the pressure is on to do something to counteract the fumes being emitted from these vehicles. "The introduction of biofuel could help us to cut down our emissions by 20 per cent."
By introducing biofuel additives to the gas tanks, it could help change the "chemical composition" to burn fuel more efficiently. It would also help to keep the engine clean and enhance the mileage of the whole fleet, she said. "We are currently doing a pilot test in Abu Dhabi with 10 vehicles... depending on the outcome, we hope to be able to role this out across the whole fleet very soon."
Kibsons also has a ‘proudly local’ section on its website and mobile application to help promote as much local produce as possible. Why? Ms Jumani said it helped to give people the option to support local agriculture and reduce their carbon footprint, even if a little.