Dubai: Residents of The Sustainable City, located on Al Qudra Road in Dubai, are collecting food leftovers for them to be recycled into compost.
A pilot project launched last month in the community has seen a major success as hundreds of kilos of food waste were collected for recycling in just one month.
Residents collected 630kg of food scrap, 30kg of saw dust to compost the waste on a plot of land assigned within The Sustainable City itself.
The project has been initiated by two expatriates living in Dubai, Ceylan Uren, from Turkey, and Lara Hussein, from Lebanon, both co-founders of a start-up called The Waste Lab that specialises in making compost out of food scrap.
Residents cooperate in the new initiative
British expatriate Ben McCabe, a resident of The Sustainable City and founder and CEO of McCabe + Partners, was a part of the pilot project. McCabe is thrilled with the outcome of recycling food scrap and waste. “When you live in the City, there is real community ethos built around one purpose, which is helping ensure a more sustainable way of living. As a resident, we are always looking at ways and means to reduce waste and live a sustainable life,” said McCabe. “So I think the Waste Lab initiative is a really good one,” McCabe added.
How it all works
Essentially, all food goes into the landfill. “With this project, all food scrap and waste is collected from residents and converted into compost. What is more interesting is that the composting is done on a plot of land assigned at the City itself. This way, residents can see for themselves how it is done. Also, they get to see how their food waste and scrap is being put to good use,” said McCabe.
He added: “What is even better is that the community has decided that the compost generated from the waste will be used for agricultural purposes within The City itself.”
Getting community support
Uren of The Waste Lab said: “We did an incubation programme with The Sustainable City for a month. It was a trial phase for residents to get the feel of how food scrap and waste can be regularly recycled. They are supporting sustainable start-ups. The incubation programme to support the start-ups. Seeing the success of the project, we will go further and involve more residents.”
The trial phase
“The trial phase involves 34 villa residents and a food and beverages facility in the community that has volunteered to collect food scrap and waste for recycling,” said Uren. She added: “We provided them with all the guidelines on how to save food waste from the kitchen and put them into the bins. The bins are cleaned seamlessly in order to continue with the collection of food scraps. This is just the beginning. There is a massive potential for the project to grow even bigger. The residents have been very supportive of the entire cause.”
Collecting the waste
McCabe explained: “The Waste Lab dropped off a bin just for us to dump our food scrap and waste. The bin is collected every week. The bin with the waste is then picked up and a fresh bin is dropped off at the same time. As residents, we felt good to be able to do something meaningful for the larger community and the planet.”
So far, it has been a free initiative, but going forward, residents will have to pay a monthly subscription for their waste to be duly recycled. “Personally, I am ready to pay a little for this project as I know it is for a larger cause. There is a service fee that needs to be paid for fresh bins and the service of dropping and collecting the bins,” said McCabe.
Segregating the waste
Uren explained: “The first and major segregation of food waste is done by the residents themselves. Later, The Waste Lab runs a double check to ensure no impurities are added. Electric buggies in the community collect the bins from the residents and they are then dropped off at the Dome area within the community.”
McCabe, living in the UAE for the last ten years, said: “The end result is that waste going into the landfill is reduced, thereby helping reduce greenhouse gases that trap the heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to global warming. Thanks to composting, a fertile soil is created that can be used for agriculture within The City.”
Uren added : “Currently, we are in talks with The Sustainable City to scale up the project organically. So, with the support of the management and residents, we will be able to drive up the collection and thereby create more compost. Hopefully, it will garner enough support, so we can do this on a larger scale.”