ABU DHABI // A programme that placed 150 recycling bins along the Corniche equipped with solar panels to power advertising at night is set to expand.
Visuals Advertising, a company based in the capital, is manufacturing the stainless steel bins after being awarded a contract by Abu Dhabi Municipality. The company plans to roll out another 150 of the containers at petrol stations.
"We will soon be doing stage two with Abu Dhabi Municipality," said Mohammed Fadly, Visuals Advertising's general manager.
The bins, which each weigh 110kg and appeared last year, have three slots: one for plastic, cans and glass, a second for paper and a third for waste that cannot be recycled. The angled tops of the units are fitted with solar panels, which collect energy during the day and light up adverts on the side panels at night.
About 200kg of waste was being collected from the existing bins every two days, with about 60 to 70 per cent of it segregated correctly by the public, Mr Fadly said.
The company is still trying to secure a contract with a private company to recycle the waste. Mr Fadly said he expected negotiations with a company, which he declined to name before the deal was finalised, to conclude by early March.
In 2009, the Centre for Waste Management - Abu Dhabi, which is dealing with waste and recycling in the capital, launched a recycling scheme in several neighbourhoods.
Officials said the pilot project offering door-to-door collection in Khalidiya, Bein Al Jesrein and Officers City would be expanded to the rest of the capital.
After a change of management last year, the centre is now re-examining those plans and would not comment on them. Nor would it say how the scheme on the Corniche fitted in.
A source close to the Visuals Advertising project, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the small size of the bins could prove to be a challenge. The company should consider installing compacting equipment to reduce the number of collection runs needed, making the scheme more sustainable, the source said.
Maria Yankova, a 35-year-old mother, said her family had started bringing their recycling with them on trips to the Corniche.
"I noticed them and I thought it was a very good idea," she said on a recent weekday. "We actually started separating paper and plastic."
Lina Ahmad, a 30-year-old architect, was less positive. Although she is in favour of recycling, she doubted whether the scheme could meaningfully reduce the large amounts of waste that Abu Dhabi residents generate.
"I cannot drag my rubbish all the way from Manasir to here … I know for a fact my mother will never make an attempt to bring plastic and cans to the Corniche, but if it was closer to the house, she would," said Ms Ahmad. "It will be more useful to have recycling bins in the residential areas."
Mr Fadly said he was hoping that support for the scheme would increase as people became more aware of the benefits of recycling.
"It is lack of knowledge. We are trying to educate people," he said. "The project is quite new and people are not used to doing segregation."
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. The majority of this is discarded food and plastics.
Most of Abu Dhabi's waste ends up in landfills, which are expanding rapidly and in many cases ill-fitted to handle certain polluting wastes.