x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Recycling's new page

The National starts using recycled paper in one small step towards a truly national recycling programme.

For the first time, today's print edition of The National comes to you on recycled paper. As the UAE strives to improve its record in recycling, we are proud to make a move in the right direction.

But this one step reveals the length of the journey the country is still only starting: the recycled newsprint you are holding comes from overseas, because recycling technology, management and systems are all in their infancy here.

In many places around the world, newspapers, magazines, office paper, glass bottles, aluminium cans, plastic bottles and many more products are routinely recycled, instead of being tossed into landfills as such items generally are here. Even better, in some cities local government, a private contractor or both actually make money from recycling.

Getting to that win-win situation requires more than good intentions and symbolic gestures; there's a lot of infrastructure in recycling. Practical - that is, profitable - reuse alternatives must be identified and developed. Sorting and processing depots must be built. Every neighbourhood, even every building, must be given recycling facilities. Collection systems, parallel to those for rubbish, must be put in place. Finally public education campaigns must "sell" the whole process to everyone.

Meeting all these challenges begins with political will, and governments in the UAE are displaying that. The rest will follow.