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Can You Recycle in Dubai?

Wash, Rinse, Repeat…

…This is exactly what we have to do in order to instill a mindset of recycling. It has to become routine. The problem is, recycling for most people in the UAE is like joining the gym. They’re really excited about it and do it religiously for the first few weeks, then they just find excuses not to. What happens is that they accumulate a heap of plastic and newspapers and then end up throwing them straight into the bin when no one is looking.

The other issue is not everyone knows what they can and can’t recycle. I recently caught my fiance collecting styrofoam and throwing it in with plastic bottles and plastic carrier bags. It’s not that she’s stupid, quite the contrary. She’s highly intelligent yet uneducated when it comes to recycling. She’s lived here for 16 years and hasn’t really had any pamphlets through the door from the local council notifying people what they can and can’t recycle. We recycle lots in our house. Newspapers, PET Bottles, cardboard. We also try to re-use a lot of glass jars as you can’t recycle them here anymore. I know what you’re thinking, you’ve probably seen the glass recycling collection bins. You’re right, they’re there. Unfortunately, since the glass recycling plant in Jebel Ali closed a couple years ago, they just get thrown into the landfill.

As a small eco business, I had the idea of making recycling easy for my clients by offering a free collection service every time our maids where booked in to clean their house or apartment. All I asked is for them to separate paper in one and plastics and cans in the other. Considering the service was free and all people had to do is throw something into a box rather than a bin, it still seemed a little hard for most.

The next issue was the municipality. I had struck up a deal with a recycling company to give me the big bins for free and Dubai Garden Centre where extremely kind and let us park these mammoth bins around the back of the building. Unfortunately, the municipality came through a few weeks later and tried to fine us for not having permits for them. Three bins, Dhs 5,000 per bin per permit = Dhs 15,000 for trying to do the right thing.

As mentioned earlier, being a SMALL eco business, it didn’t make sense to fork out to keep them there. Even after the recycling company offered to pay us for the recycling received, I think I would have made the money back by 2013 at the rate we were collecting. What we hope to do as a business is find other ways of recycling, re-using and reducing. I know all things green are such clichés now but it’s something that we must push on with. I really believe it’s education. If we teach our kids to recycle, half the battle will have been won because they won’t know any better. It’ll be second nature for them like brushing their teeth before and after going to bed. More importantly though, it’s crucial that we ourselves understand the basics in order to explain to them as well as show them the necessity of doing so. At least until it becomes habit.

Article courtesy of
Tolga Soytekin
EcoClean UAE



One Response to “Can You Recycle in Dubai?”

  1. M. says:

    Hi,
    Please I would like to know the name of the company that you dealt with for recycling.
    Or any other recommended companies that would give me a good deal.
    Thank you!


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