UAE | Environment

Waste paper crunch hampers UAE's recycling mill

Dubai-based mill buys pulp-making material as traders ship tonnes abroad

  • By Emmanuelle Landais, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 August 3, 2011
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/©Gulf News
  • Recycling of paper has been made easy in Dubai. Residents need to dispose of their used papers properly and the rest will be taken care of by the recycling companies operating in Dubai.

Dubai: Your waste paper can be recycled into cardboard in just one hour. However so few people are handing in their paper to be recycled that the UAE's only paper mill has to either buy from traders or watch it being shipped for recycling abroad.

Other recycling facilities around the city are set up by traders or waste companies that sell the cardboard to be recycled overseas, increasing its carbon footprint.

With the technology available to recycle waste from the UAE in the UAE, there is no need to send valuable materials somewhere else, said Huzaifa Rangwala, from Union Paper Mills (UPM), the paper recycling mill in the UAE.

Since 1987 the Dubai-based mill has been turning cardboard and paper to pulp to give it a new lease of life as much-needed cardboard for packaging companies. There is not enough demand to recycle the pulp into paper, said Rangwala.


Segregating paper and cardboard from other types of rubbish, especially liquids and food, is important to make sure efforts to separate your garbage are not wasted. Usually dirty paper will end up in a landfill because it costs too much to clean.

Just one quarter of the volume UPM can recycle is picked up from their recycling centres across the city. "Our capacity is 410 tonnes per day. To produce that we need 450 tonnes per day.

"If we cannot meet our demand we have to buy in bulk from traders who usually export it to recyclers abroad," said Rangwala. UPM buys one tonne of cardboard for approximately Dh600.

"There is plenty of waste here. We could set up two or three more factories if it wasn't being shipped away," he said. "We should be exporting a product to encourage local business rather than exporting the raw material to have cardboard made elsewhere."

UPM's plant in Al Quoz uses a technology that does not cut up the cardboard in the pulping process in order to protect its fibres and its strength, said John Vijayan, plant foreman.

According to Rangwala, segregating waste paper and cardboard can bring down the cost for businesses as UPM picks up the material for free.

Recycling of paper


Some of the locations where Union Paper Mills recycling bins are located:

  • Dubai Silicon Oasis (13)
  • Dragon Mart (3)
  • Spinneys, Umm Suqeim
  • Aswaaq, Al Warqaa
  • Aswaaq, Umm Suqeim
  • Aswaaq, Nad Al Hamar
  • Aswaaq, Al Mizhar


Comments (7)

  1. Added 16:32 August 3, 2011

    While one appreciates that Union Paper Mills is making a laudable effort to recycle in the UAE, one cannot fault the waste paper traders in the UAE whose effort is equally commendable. I do not agree with the phrase that exporting waste paper increases its carbon footprint as the savings are offset by the high cost of producing fresh water in the local recycling process. The paper manufactured by Union Paper Mills is sold to local users at prices which are corresponding to the international market. I do not see a reason why waste paper traders should be disparaged for running their established businesses. I am sure Union Paper Mills also sells “Non-brown” grades of paper (including newspaper) to local traders or exports them as these grades of waste paper are not recycled at Union Paper Mills.

    Mina Wanjari, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:45 August 3, 2011

    I always wondered why recycling boxes are kept near the bus stops. I don't think anybody will put news paper except some food wrapers. It should be near near the residence blocks. Of course without the mercy of the building watchman it is impossible to succeed.

    Noble Noel Chellappa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:31 August 3, 2011

    Why does UPM not start a logistics chain and start buying waste paper from people and companies? It is big business in India for sure. And it will encourage one and all.....

    Rohit , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:00 August 3, 2011

    I live in the Arabian Ranches, where some communities have home pick up of recycling, however, we are told to put paper, plastic & metal all together, and must take our glass recycling to the depot at our shopping center. I would encourage UPM to approach Emaar Community Management to take over paper recycling in their developments, as i fear that the company we pay for with our annual service fees either doesn't actually recycle the materials or, as this article describes, sells them.

    Elan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 11:38 August 3, 2011

    It would be ideal if Gulf News itself could arrange old newspapers and magazines to be picked up from it subscribers on a fortnightly or monthly basis. It is truly disheartening to see such a lot of paper being wasted.

    Olivia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:13 August 3, 2011

    Mr Kurian, I haven't heard of any company that actually picks up newspapers from individual houses, but might I recommend simply designating a place in your house where you can keep the newspaper and the many supplements/magazine you get? At the end of the week, put it in your car. So, the next time you go to a petrol station (many have recycling boxes) you can just drop them in! I started doing that a couple of years ago, and it is very simple and easy. Plus you feel good about having done something for the environment. Hope this helps :)

    Ameena, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:06 August 3, 2011

    Is there any agency collecting Newspapers for recycling? Everyday, after reading "Gulf News", it is disposed along with other household garbage, which has been the practice for several years now.

    KURIAN, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

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