The Uae's War On Waste
The average person throws 4.4 pounds of trash out a day. In a year, that's 1,606 pounds a year. The UAE is home to just over 9.55 million people - that equals 15.3 billion pounds of trash thrown out a year in the UAE.
That's a shocking number, especially considering how small the country's landmass is in comparison to other countries. Yet, this number might even rise due to the exponential population growth and economic activities being carried out.
Currently, the waste that doesn't end up littering the environment finds its way to municipal landfills or dumpsites but this is a temporary solution. Unless the trash is properly segregated when being thrown, a lot of recyclable materials end up in sites like this along with organic waste and non-degradable. The former becomes a resource which isn't utilised while the organic waste begins to generate methane which is a potent greenhouse gas.
The non-degradable remain just that, non-degradable, which might not cause much harm in a landfill but for the bits and pieces which end up loose in the environment, they hold a threat to the wildlife.
The UAE may be young, but it’s wise. The country's policymakers have learnt from its mistakes as well as its neighbors and more efforts are being made each year to raise awareness of this rising issue as well as combat it.
For starters, the past decade has seen several waste management authorities set up in different emirates to oversee each specific state's waste management. In Abu Dhabi, Tadweer was launched in 2008 and helped launch a Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme with the Abu Dhabi Sewage Services Company to build sewer tunnels in an effort to diver 85 per cent of the emirate's waste from dumping grounds.
And just last month, Tadweer announced that it collected over 1.1 million tonnes of waste from Abu Dhabi in just the first half of this year. This included municipal solid waste, green waste and bulky waste from residential areas, animal waste from farms, slaughterhouse waste and low volume demolition and construction waste.
The waste collected is recycled, treated and disposed of in compliance with the highest international environmental standards. Among the commonly-used treatment methods is the conversion of agricultural and organic wastes into organic fertilizers that help advance the agricultural sec tor in the emirate.
"The rapid population grow the and unprecedented urbanisation in the emirate of Abu Dhabi has led to a dramatic increase in consumption and waste production. At Tadweer, we implement a comprehensive waste management strategy that focuses on reducing waste and minimising waste disposal and treatment costs. Through turning waste into economically important resources and offering best-in - class waste management services, Tadweer supports Abu Dhabi's sustainable development agenda and contributes to achieving the goal s outlined in the Plan Abu Dhabi 2030," said Dr Salem Al Kaabi, Ac ting General Manager of Tadweer.
"These efforts seek to increase public awareness about the importance of recycling and to promote a culture of resource conservation and waste segregation at source. This project and several other recycling initiatives make Abu Dhabi a global leader in integrated waste management that complies with international best practices," he added.
Tadweer also opened a new construction and demolition waste recycling facility recently which is anticipated to receive incoming construction and demolition waste in the range of 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes per month with an average daily inflow of 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes.
In Dubai, meanwhile, the emirate's Waste Management Master Plan was launched in 2012 with an aim to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills to zero in 20 years by working to establish the largest plant in the Middle East, set to convert solid waste into energy at a cost of Dh2 billion in its Warsan district. The plant is set to open in 2020 and is also part of the National Agenda to reduce the current landfill by 75 per cent. If all goes according to plan, by 2020, 7 per cent of Dubai's total energy will be coming from clean energy sources.
It's our planet too
For waste management to truly be successful though, businesses and residents need to participate equally. Businesses need to adopt corporate responsibility and work hand-in-hand with local waste authorities and participate within their established agenda models.
Individually, each person needs to adopt a more mindful lifestyle. Off the bat, the best place to start is the shopping mart. Instead of sticking to brands you know and love, take the time to consider and try products which offer greener packages such as being packed in recyclable materials rather than plastic. There are plenty of steps all of us can take which will build over time to create a greener planet and a safer future.
For a guide on where to begin, head to our website and check out our article on ethical living which you'll find in our June issue as well.
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