x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Jordanian recycles idea from overseas to fill environmental gap in Dubai

Engineer has set up Green Truck, a service where residents of villa communities in Dubai can pay to have all manner of household waste picked up and recycled.

Diya Khalil with one of his Green Truck bins at Jumeirah Park.  His new company offers recycling to private villa communities.  Jaime Puebla / The National
Diya Khalil with one of his Green Truck bins at Jumeirah Park. His new company offers recycling to private villa communities. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Diya Khalil still remembers a conversation five years ago that gave him the inspiration for his charitable initiative and, since spring, his business.

Mr Khalil was at a function in Dubai in 2009 when a German expatriate told him she took used printer cartridges and batteries on trips home because she could not dispose of them correctly in the UAE.

“Speaking to her was a spark that made me think there probably were more people who would like to recycle if they had the opportunity to do so,” he said.

So the Jordanian set up recycling collection points at several spots in Dubai, collecting 25 tonnes of plastics, metal, paper and other recyclables in a three-year campaign.

Proceeds from the sale of the materials, about Dh20,000, were donated to the Dubai Autism Centre.

The modest success of the scheme inspired the engineer, who holds a full-time job with a Dubai energy monitoring company, to set up his own business, collecting recyclable items from villa communities in Dubai and selling them to companies that process them for reuse.

The company, Green Truck, was set up after Mr Khalil’s business plan won a competition by the local chapter of Acumen, a global non-profit venture fund.

Competition sponsor Venture 7 Capital, a private investment office, provided the funds to start the company.

Since last month, Green Truck has been servicing 60 paying clients in villa communities. For Dh100 a month, customers are provided with a bin in which they put paper, plastics, glass, drink cans and used electronics.

The waste is collected once a week and taken to EnviroServe, a Dubai company with which Mr Khalil is in partnership.

Staff of the company, which specialises in the recycling refrigeration and air-conditioning gases, and electronics, further separate the recyclable waste, which is then sold for reprocessing.

A key factor in the scheme’s success will be expanding the number of customers.

Mr Khalil said he had chosen to focus on freehold communities because Dubai Municipality had recently rolled out plans for recycling in other villa communities.

He is also relying on a client base that is much more interested in recycling that the mainstream public.

“Most people take this very seriously and, for them, it is important,” said Mr Khalil of his customers.

Properly segregating the waste is the main challenge for recycling schemes targeting the general public.

But that is not the case with Kate Tavener, 35, who lives in Jumeirah Park with her husband and young child.

“When I left Australia five years ago, every single thing in the house had to be recycled as a way of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill,” Mrs Tavener said.

She said she had been disappointed by the lack of recycling facilities in the UAE.

Mrs Tavener said companies managing freehold communities should offer door-to-door recycling schemes for its residents but, ultimately, her family was happy to foot the bill.

“It is a step in the right direction,” she said.

“It is fantastic to be able to recycle most of our waste.”

The scheme is allowing Canadian Ali Mokdad, who also lives in Jumeirah Park, to go back to recycling after a five-year gap.

Mr Mokdad, 31, gave it up when he moved to Dubai and saw a collection lorry mix items from recycling bins with general waste in International City.

“I saw that and I was just shocked,” he said.

“I stopped recycling, thinking what is the point? But I always felt guilty not doing it.”

Mr Mokdad said he now felt good to be able to go back to recycling and hopes the new service will be a success.

“It is a great start-up and I hope it really picks up,” he said.

For more information, visit www.greentruck.ae.

vtodorova@thenational.ae