Waste pile grows as capital recycles

A pilot recycling scheme has collected roughly 100 tonnes of reusable material in three months, all of which is sitting at a site outside the capital.

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ABU DHABI // A pilot recycling scheme has collected roughly 100 tonnes of reusable material in three months all of which is sitting at a site outside the capital while authorities decide what to do with it. Since November, the volume of recycled materials from Khalidiya, Officers City and Bain al Jesrain the three Abu Dhabi neighbourhoods selected for the Centre of Waste Management's pilot programme has risen steadily. Khalidiya residents show the most dramatic change by more than doubling their recycled output.

It was an encouraging sign of progress, said Deeb Abu Dalo, the operations manager for West Coast Akmercan. The company is responsible for collecting the green waste bins from about 90 per cent of more than 1,125 villas under the programme. "People are reducing their production of waste," he said. "The first week in our areas, everybody noticed that they're reducing the loads of garbage and putting out more recyclables." At the moment, officials do not seem concerned that a method for processing the recyclables has not yet been decided.

All of the waste is brought to a transfer station in Al Mafraq. The recycled material is then sorted and segregated by hand. Abu Dhabi does not yet have a reprocessing facility for recyclables, but consultants working with the Centre of Waste Management said they were exploring the possibility of sending the recycled materials to India or China for processing. The programme began on November 2, when residents in Officers City, Bain al Jesrain and Khalidiya woke up to see two new, 240-litre rubbish bins outside their gates, provided by the Centre for Waste Management. A green bin was designated for recyclables such as plastics, tins, glass jars and paper. A black bin was for other waste.

Volunteers from the Centre of Waste Management and Zayed University went door-to-door to hand out leaflets and explain the new recycling system. Al Ain began its own pilot recycling programme shortly after. According to the Centre of Waste Management, the entire emirate will have door-to-door recycling and rubbish collection at villas by 2011. Mohammed bin Zayed City and Khalifa Cities A and B are expected to join the programme in March.

According to the MBM Dallah waste-collection company, the 115 Khalidiya residences given recycling bins last November disposed of 230kg of recycled waste on November 30, a Monday morning. That volume more than doubled eight weeks later to 580kg on January 25. Ahmed Samir, a Palestinian civil engineer living in Khalidiya, said his family had embraced using the new green bins since they arrived. He said about 10 plastic juice and milk bottles a week were now going into the recycling bin rather than the general waste bin.

Records from West Coast Akmercan showed that on November 16, collection vehicles picked up 2,720kg from the green bins in Officers City and Bain al Jesrain. That volume rose to 3,580kg by January 23. All recycling in Abu Dhabi is currently "single-stream", meaning residents are not required to segregate different types of recyclable materials. That was unlikely to be introduced until the programme matured years down the line, said a consultant for the Centre of Waste Management, who did not want to be named.

He added: "When you first start from nothing, you want it to go: recyclables here, other waste over here." @Email:mkwong@thenational.ae