x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

New business waste tariffs take effect

Most companies who pay the fee, which is linked to the annual renewal of their business license, part with just Dh5,000


Scheme faces some delays and questions over fee structure

Vesela Todorova


ABU DHABI // The introduction of the emirate's first waste tariff faced some glitches in the first week, with delays in processing applications and disputes over the amount charged.

The scheme, unveiled last year and introduced last Wednesday, aims to reduce the 4.7 million tonnes of waste the emirate produces each year by charging private companies and government organisations alike Dh225 for every tonne of waste they generate and send to landfill.

The fee is due when companies renew their yearly trade licences at the Department of Economic Development.

While applications were processed in an average of 10 minutes in Abu Dhabi, a temporary lack of internet access in Al Ain meant significant delays. Other snags came in calculating the fees owed by some companies.

To reach a formula, the Center of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi studied 4,500 types of economic activities using historical data. However, some companies were in lines of business that the department had not factored into its study, so staff had to base estimates on something similar.

Some companies also disputed the fees, and there were instances where the charges were reduced after review.

Clerks stayed up working until 9pm to smooth out the issues, said Essam Ali Ahmad, a technical adviser at the centre. While the system had some shortcomings, other delays were caused by companies that were not aware they would be charged, he said.

"People showed up without the right money or needed clarification," he said. "I encourage applicants to go to our website, there is a calculator there. It may not be accurate to the nearest dirham, but it is enough for people to know whether to bring Dh500 or Dh1,000."

The maximum amount a company can be charged is Dh50,000, although the fee can be reduced if a company demonstrates it is recycling. Of the companies that applied on Wednesday, 70 per cent paid less than Dh5,000 in fees.

If no measures were taken, projections suggested Abu Dhabi would be producing 31 million tonnes of waste a year by 2030, the equivalent of 12,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The fee, which covers just 45 per cent of the real cost of waste disposal, aims to reduce that to six million tonnes.

The Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri and Traders Hotel complex has already signed a deal with a recycler and begun separating cans, plastics, paper and cardboard boxes. Christian Tjenderasa, the complex's chief engineer, said the new fee will have an impact on the hotels' running costs.

"This will affect our operational costs, but we remain committed to operating in a socially and environmentally responsible manner," he said.