Waste reduction a top priority
DUBAI // The environmental standards demanded of restaurants and residents of Dubai’s Sustainable City could result in major social, economic and health benefits, according to its supporters.
The development, which will be 100 per cent solar-powered and home to 3,000 residents, will be operational next month with 10 restaurants and a supermarket conforming to strict rules on sustainable food to minimise waste.
Urban farming is another initiative to help the city’s residents and visitors to the Diamond Developers project in Al Waha leave a smaller carbon footprint.
“To minimise food waste and implement greener practices, we have inserted a clause in all lease agreements binding all restaurants to comply with the Green Restaurant Certification Standards,” said Karim El Jisr, director of the Diamond Innovation Centre.
“The first step in reducing food waste and loss is getting people to perceive there is a problem. Restaurants must communicate the problem to their clients and act accordingly.
“We are asking our food and beverage outlets to commit to these standards, and we will work with them to improve their systems and reduce wastage.”
The city’s urban farm produces more than 20 kinds of herbs and will soon start growing fruit and vegetables once the productive landscape matures. About 2,000 date palms are on the property. Green compost is used on everything grown.
“We expect Dubai Municipality to increase tipping fees in the near future, which will encourage producers to reduce their waste,” said Mr El Jisr.
He said that the collection and disclosure of data from food providers would help improve waste policy.
“We are also looking into composting our food waste, turning it into a resource that will improve our soils.
“Urban farming is an important ingredient in any community that aims to be more sustainable. It helps achieve several social, economic and environmental goals and is important to maintain natural systems and avoid using agro-chemicals.”
All of Sustainable City’s recycled water will be used for irrigation and farming and a hotel there will use its produce.
Researchers in Abu Dhabi said large amounts of water could also be recycled to irrigate the capital’s farms and parks.
A New York University Abu Dhabi report said that 54 per cent of recycled water in the emirate was reused in 2012.
The idea of further controls by Dubai Municipality to reduce waste was raised at a recent Emirates Environmental Group forum.
Dr Essam Elhashimi, a food studies expert with the municipality, said at the forum that UAE communities needed to act quickly as they have become “mega food wasters”.
“There is a need for prevention of food wastage by tackling it at the source, through trade partnerships with exporting countries and knowledge sharing with relevant authorities and personnel involved in the export of food.”
He supported an idea of limited portions at food outlets by law. Such a move would not only reduce waste but could improve the nation’s obesity figures.
McKinsey Global Institute researchers said the economic burden of obesity on the UAE cost US$6 billion [Dh22bn] in medical care costs.
“With a third of the world considered overweight or obese by the World Health Organisation, we must look at this complex issue from all angles,” said Dr Hussein Saadi, chief of the medical sub-specialties institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “Making conscious choices of what you’re eating can make a big difference.”
Published: September 4, 2016 04:00 AM