x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ban helps Dubai's war on waste

Garbage trucks from other emirates dumped their rubbish in Dubai because of cheaper fees.

Dubai is winning its battle to reduce the amount of household waste being dumped - but not because of its recycling initiatives or residents' major lifestyle changes.

According to the latest figures from Dubai Municipality and Dubai Statistics Centre, the emirate produced 2,689,809 tonnes of solid waste last year - nearly 800,000 tonnes less than 2010 and more than one million tonnes less than 2009.

However, the improvement has been put down to the banning of other emirates dumping their rubbish in Dubai rather than the municipality's campaign for residents to take up a greener outlook. "We had dump trucks coming from Sharjah and other emirates using our waste management facilities because our fees are cheaper," said Adbulmajeed Saifaie, director of the Waste Management Department at the municipality. "So, in essence, the figures we have from 2010 and previous years are skewed."

Mr Saifaie added: "Dubai wasn't producing that much waste. That said, it doesn't mean we are off the hook, we still have a lot of work to do to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and apply green practices like recycling."

Last year's figures show that Dubai residents produced, on average, 3.7 kilograms of domestic waste per person a day.

"This number is still too high, and we must work together to reduce it," said Mr Saifaie.

Most developed countries average about 2kg of waste per person, while some like Japan are at about the 1kg mark.

"We have a strategic plan in place to reduce our total waste output, but much of this takes time as it has to do with awareness and a change in lifestyle," Mr Saifaie said.

"Ramadan is almost here; it's a time for Muslims to reflect on the things we have been blessed with and think of those less fortunate.

"Sadly, it's also a time where we witness wasting of food, which is completely against the whole concept of the Holy Month."

He added that the average amount of waste produced during Ramadan is only slightly higher from other times of the year, but there may be some differences in waste composition.

One way in which the department hopes to force a change in people's lifestyle is through the distribution of leaflets offering advice on how to reduce rubbish, especially during Ramadan.

The leaflet features 20 points a family can implement to reduce domestic waste, including using a composting system at home, reusing glass jars to store food, using rechargeable batteries, donating unused household items to charities and using online bills instead of paper copies.

"We urge the public to reduce the waste as much as possible consuming less food to be healthy during Ramadan and keep the emirate clean," said Mr Saifaie.

malkhan@thenational.ae