DUBAI // Residents of three neighbourhoods in the emirate have saved 500 tonnes of waste in four months by using new recycling bins supplied by the municipality.
Nad Al Hamar, Mizhar 1 and Mizhar 2 recycled almost 15 per cent of the waste they produced, while Mizhar 2 residents reached a 33 per cent recycling rate last month.
The 'My City, My Environment' initiative was launched four months ago to raise enthusiasm for a door-to-door recycling programme.
"This is part of our strategic plan to drastically reduce Dubai's domestic waste production and the first of its kind in the UAE," said Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, director of the Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality.
"We decided to test this out in these three communities first, so that we can iron out all the problems before we gradually implement this across the rest of Dubai."
In each neighbourhood, the municipality replaced large dumpsters with two wheelie-bins for each house: a green bin for all recyclable materials and a black or blue bin for all organic waste.
Separating the different recyclables - paper, tin, plastic and glass - is done after collection.
Mr Saifaie said he hoped residents would, through word of mouth, increase awareness about recycling among their family and friends living in other communities.
"Yes, we understand that we are asking the public to put in a little more effort in their daily chores, but the benefit of that little effort will be paid back many times over for their children and grandchildren."
For most of the 3,725 households participating in the initiative, this is their first experience in recycling.
"We didn't start recycling until they gave us these bins, but it's a very good idea and has even reduced the amount of littering in the area," said Sayed Mohammed Al Hashemi, whose family of eight live in Nad Al Hamar.
Talal Suroor, a 41-year-old government employee who also lives in Nad Al Hamar, was equally enthusiastic. "It's a great awareness campaign; we've taught our maid how to use the bins and we've even started segregating the trash inside the house," he said. "I've also noticed a huge reduction in pests and stray animal, since the trash is picked up every morning and not left in dumpsters for days."
Fellow resident Omar Ibrahim, 26, said everyone on his street was using the bins.
"Our children and elders got to learn how to recycle and how that affects our environment and protects our lifestyle. Everyone likes it. Even when friends and family visit us from other emirates they are impressed."
Mohammed Al Saba, an Abu Dhabi resident visiting one of the communities, backed up Mr Ibrahim's claim: "It's about time the UAE had a proper recycling programme for residential areas," said the 33-year-old military officer. "We have a recycling bin somewhere in Khalifa City but it's not convenient and there is no awareness being done - certainly nothing like this."
Dulsco Waste Management Services, one of three companies contracted to collect the recycling, reported residents had been very supportive of the campaign.
"We have seen a steady increase in the practice of segregation at source among residents resulting in a positive impact on the recyclables collected," said Ajay Kumar, senior operations manager at Dulsco.
His company conducted an extensive awareness campaign to educate residents about recycling at the start of the initiative. "Volunteers visited every house in the area and explained the process. Leaflets were also distributed for reference. In addition, the bins provided have clear bilingual [and visual] instructions on what type of wastes should be put in each of the coloured bins.
"We believe awareness is a continuous process and plan to undertake refresher campaigns for the community from time to time."