The My City, My Environment recycling programme was launched in February 2012 to bring door-to-door household recycling to residents. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: With Al Ghusais municipal landfill expected to reach capacity by 2021, the race is on to build enough recycling capacity in Dubai to reduce mountains of garbage generated by a growing population, officials said on Wednesday.

To help push back the growing tide of waste, Dubai is set to launch a raft of new public recycling stations for the first time in the new year.

Abdul Majeed Abdul Aziz Saifaie, Director of Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality, said efforts by his team continue to expand the My City, My Environment recycling programme, and will include starting up 15 new public recycling stations in January 2016.

These stations will primarily serve residents living in high-density areas of the city that are not engaged in door-to-door recycling now in place for individual villa neighbourhoods.

“We will locate these new public recycling stations in more public common areas such as parks and next to centres such as Al Manara Centre for easy access for people,” Saifaie told Gulf News. “We are starting with 15 locations and if we see there is a big demand, we can extend it more. We are placing the orders now but it will take some time to manufacture them.”

Each public recycling station, he said, will contain about 20 boxes to accept materials such as glass, cans, plastic, batteries, mobiles, paper, light bulbs, and larger bulk items, he said.

To ensure enough garbage can be diverted away from a landfill running out of space, municipal officials said they need everyone in Dubai to understand the importance of recycling garbage.

According to the latest Dubai staistics, 3.5 million metric tonnes of general waste were generated in Dubai in the first quarter of 2015.

A new campaign was rolled out on Wednesday dubbed ‘Dubai Environmental Culture’, setting the latest stage in the My City, My Environment recycling programme launched in February 2012 to bring door-to-door household recycling to residents.

What started as a pilot project nearly four years ago aimed at villas in three areas of the city, officials said, has now expanded to 15 areas of the city — seven more will be added in coming months although the official list is yet to be released.

By year’s end, nearly 27,000 homes in residential neighbourhoods will enjoy recycling by separating at source in the home materials such as glass and paper, plastics and cans which are then picked up by municipal waste trucks and processed for resale on the recyclables market.

The plan is to add 10 new residential areas each year over the next five years at the end of which door-to-door recycling should envelop all of the city.

Despite the success of the ever-expanding programme, Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, told a press conference the hard work to place black and green recycling bins in homes — black is for solid waste, green is for recyclables — must now be augmented by creating a new environmental cultural awareness.

The “cognitive gap” between the act of recycling and understanding why we are doing it must be closed, he said, and is the aim of the new campaign.

In an interview with Gulf News, Lootah said, “Today is about creating awareness for school kids to find out why we do recycling, why we segregate at source, why they should communicate and cooperate with us to achieve a sustainable city of Dubai.”

Lootah noted, “First we did the job [installing door-to-door recycling], now we are doing the awareness.”

Municipal officials were surrounded by Grade 5 students from Dubai International School who are taking part in the campaign.

To begin, Lootah said municipal staff are set to take the message of conservation and recycling via workshops into school classrooms, homes, parks, malls and streets under a new campaign launched yesterday at Dubai.

Salah Amiri, assistant director-general for Environmental and Public Health Services Sector, said the workshops will use modern teaching methods of “learn through play.”

Teaching children is critical in order to reduce 35 per cent of garbage that is still being buried in landfills today in Dubai, he said.

To further promote the campaign, Dubai Environmental Culture staffers are working on a cube-shaped symbol that will represent green efforts across Dubai and will be placed in key public areas as reminders that the environment is everyone’s responsibility.

For example, a mega cube symbolising the amount of waste generated in a home that is lost to landfills if not recycled, will be on display in parks and malls to reinforce the recycling message.