The green team from JESS Jumeirah came in full force and collected 27 kg of empty aluminium cans. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: More than 2 million empty aluminium cans were gathered from across the UAE on Saturday as part of a nation-wide collection drive in a boost to community-based recycling.

The Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), a non-government organisation, has been spearheading the campaign for 20 years now – this year was the biggest haul and brought together some 300 participating entities from all the seven Emirates.

Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of the EEG, said the this year's drive collected 27,000 kilograms of aluminium cans, equivalent to about 2 million empty cans.

The twice-a-year campaign saw staff from government agencies, hotels, private companies, academic institutions, and families happily dropping off cans they collected at assigned points for weighing, collection and photo ops.

EEG gave a certificate to participants based on the number of kilograms they brought for recycling.

Al Marashi said the campaign aims to bring people from all segments of society together, taking action to segregate and recycle, and allowing them to participate in environmental stewardship.

She said, however, that greater community participation is needed to make a difference.

"When we say we target 27 tonnes, that really means just above 2 million cans. But if you compare that to the amount of cans that are sold in the UAE every year, more than 500 million cans,  so this is really like a drop in the ocean."

The average UAE resident generates from 1.8kg to 2.4kg of waste per day

Though the amount collected is significant, the annual run is largely symbolic, Al Marashi said, adding: "It is a platform to raise the awareness of society, that we're all in this together. The 500 million cans used in the UAE every year need to be recycled, and not ending up in the landfills."

The grassroot recycling drive has snowballed over the last 20 years and has seen participation from an increasing number of individuals and entities.