ABU DHABI // A new door-to-door recycling initiative now in the pilot phase in Khalifa City B could set the example for the rest of the capital, as the city tries to implement best waste management practices this year.
The pilot programme, which began in Khalifa City B in January, targets 1,700 homes and works in conjunction with an awareness campaign in the same neighbourhood.
"There has definitely been an increase in recycling. A lot of people use the system and are happy," said Nada Khamees, the education and awareness co-ordinator at the Centre for Waste Management. "We want to reuse these materials, and we want to give people an understanding of the culture and tradition of recycling."
The emirate of Abu Dhabi generates about 4.7 million metric tonnes of waste per year, according to the Centre for Waste Management (CWM), and that number could to rise to 31m tonnes a year by 2030 if more environmentally friendly practices are not put in place.
The amount of waste generated by UAE residents is among the highest in the world. In Abu Dhabi, every resident is responsible for up to 2.5kg of household waste per day. In 2008-2009, the overall recycling and composting rate was just above three per cent.
"I recycle because I like to be a friend to the environment," said Gaydia Wildaqada, a 32-year-old Algerian who lives in Khalifa City B. "It's clean, proper, and economical, but it's an idea not promoted in our culture. To be more successful, we need more encouragement."
Residents were provided with information pamphlets - written in four different languages - before the distribution of green bins for recyclables and black bins for regular waste.
Most of the recyclables have been paper and plastic, and the bins' contents are collected three times a week.
Essam Ahmad, the technical adviser to the general manager at CWM, said participation is about 70 per cent in the areas were recycling pilot programmes are in effect.
"It is our goal to spread these programmes throughout the emirate and be able to reach over 90 per cent compliance," Mr Ahmad said.
Next, the programme will be launched in Khalifa City A. Depending on the success of the initiative there, other neighbourhoods will follow later in the year, Ms Khamees said.
"Inshallah, we will have this all over Abu Dhabi, in every neighbourhood," said Wael Mohammed, a supervisor with West Coast Akmercan Cleaning Services, the company that collects the recycling.
In the next few months, CWM will finish reviewing tenders for a citywide recycling programme that will service the government and private sectors. That project will be available to businesses by request.
Part of the review includes structuring a programme that will see more widespread door-to-door plans.
"With proper awareness campaigns, the door-to-door systems will be successful," said Mr Ahmad. "Moreover, the government and private sector office and workplace programme should be extremely successful, given that the service will be provided per request."
The education component will be integral moving forward, officials said. "The awareness portion will not stop for people," said Ms Khamees. "Some people, they cannot change their attitudes, but we have to make them understand that it's good for Abu Dhabi to recycle. We want to be one of the best cities in the world, and we need to be clean and think about waste to do that."