Water/Wastewater

  • Abu Dhabi Aiming to Combat Disposable Culture

Abu Dhabi Aiming to Combat Disposable Culture

Mar 03 2020 Read 787 Times

Abu Dhabi is set to become the stage for a global gathering over how to take a more environmentally-friendly approach to waste management. From the 13th to the 16th January, the UAE capital will host the EcoWASTE Expo & Forum, as countries from all over the globe come to the Middle East to share new technologies and discuss ways of recycling, reusing and reducing our consumption of disposable items.

The event is a timely one and its location even more appropriate, given the UAE’s poor track record with regard to its disposable culture. At present, 80% of all waste generated in the Emiratis goes to landfill. However, the government has signalled its intention to turn that figure around, identifying an ambitious target of reducing it to a mere 15% by 2030. The upcoming conference is the perfect springboard for it to follow through on those proposals.

Reversing the trend

The 2010s have been characterised by a proliferation of plastic waste, along with the clean-up efforts that are required, so it’s about time that attitudes towards this most ubiquitous source of refuse changed. Over the last few years, there has been a rising awareness across the globe about the damaging effects that our profligate disposable culture has on the environment, and a marked effort towards changing our ways.

The COP21 summit in 2015 saw 195 nations (including the UAE) sign the Paris agreement, which pledged to keep global warming from exceeding 1.5°C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. In the intervening four years, some progress has been made – but not enough, which is why the most recent iteration of the COP talks in Madrid last month concluded that all signatories must come back to next year’s event in Glasgow with improved proposals on how they plan to curb their carbon footprint.

The EcoWASTE expo is expected to provide a timely precursor to that event, with hosts Tadweer stressing the importance of such conferences. “The exhibition will provide an ideal platform to exchange ideas and discuss new ways of waste management, recycling and safe disposal, and to make them less expensive on state budgets,” explained Salem Al Kaabi, director of Tadweer.

Waste not want not

One way to do that is by curbing our over-reliance on single-use items such as plastic cutlery, bags and straws. In the UAE, Dubai airports have indicated they aim to phase out the use of such items altogether by the end of 2020, while 15 new recycling stations have opened up across Abu Dhabi in the last 12 months.

These measures are part of a growing trend in the Emirates towards a circular economy, which prioritises reusing old items rather than replacing them, recycling those no longer fit for purpose and attempting to reduce consumption of natural resources as much as possible. The EcoWASTE conference will provide the perfect opportunity for the UAE to learn from other nations and improve existing methods of waste management to reduce the detrimental impact on the environment.

Certain attendees, such as China and Japan, will be making their first appearance at the event, and are expected to bring with them exciting new technologies for waste mitigation. The former, for example, are said to have pioneered the use of robotics in sorting recyclable waste.

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