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Dubai: In a global first, municipal workers in Dubai could soon be wearing eco-friendly uniforms made out of recycled plastic as part of a massive environmental campaign launched by Dubai Municipality.

In yet another initiative to achieve Net Zero by 2050, the civic body has announced that it has launched a campaign to collect and recycle 3 million packaging units equivalent to an impressive 60 tons of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic.

Dubai Municipality said it is set to become the first municipality in the world to utilise recycled materials to produce valuable products for its employees.

“The main objective of this initiative is to reinforce community responsibility in the environmental sector, inspiring both individuals and institutions to make eco-friendly choices,” the municipality stated.

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“It also aims to reduce the consumption of plastic, as well as foster methods and programmes that significantly increase the diversion rate of plastic waste from traditional disposal methods. This will further elevate the recycling and circular economy index, contributing to the overall sustainability of Dubai’s cleanliness and environment while aligning with national environmental targets,” it pointed out.

Threads from PET bottles

The municipality has targeted PET plastic in the eco-drive as it is widely utilised in the packaging of water, soft drinks, juices, and food products due to its durability, transparency, and lightweight properties, as well as its non-toxicity and high productivity in recycling.

Dubai Municipality is partnering with the company “DGRADE” to turn plastic bottles into uniforms for sanitation workers. The uniforms will use threads produced from 100 per cent recycled bottles.

“This groundbreaking initiative marks a global first, demonstrating the municipality’s commitment to using recycled materials to create valuable products for its employees,” it stated.

Reverse Vending Machines

The initiative encourages both the government and private sector to promote waste management, and increase the ratio and quality of recycled materials. It will also promote the concepts of sustainability, circular economy, and waste recycling.

Dubai Municipality has initiated various measures in pursuit of these goals, including the distribution of 100 smart plastic packaging collection containers to government and private educational institutions, as well as governmental, non-governmental, and sports agencies.

RVM reverse vending machine
A Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) used to recover plastic containers. Image Credit: Supplied

These are Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) designed for the recovery of plastic containers, a Dubai Municipality spokesperson explained to Gulf News.

People can dispose of plastic containers through these RVM machines to support the campaign.

17 collection centres

Additionally, 17 collection centres for recyclable materials have been designated for public use in populated areas.

“These are smart containers for collecting plastic items. Through them, boxes for collecting plastic containers have been made available for the initiative, facilitating public participation at multiple locations,” said the spokesperson.

To encourage participation at popular locations, the Municipality has set up 10 specialised plastic packaging container collection boxes for beachgoers.

“These are ten distinctive bottle-shaped containers distributed on the beaches,” the spokesperson said.

The municipality has also installed four smart plastic packaging recovery devices in public facilities such as Dubai Frame, Dubai Safari Park, Dubai Municipality Headquarters, and the DM Customer Centre in Al Manara.

Green circular economy

Dawoud Al Hajri, director general of Dubai Municipality, emphasised that this social initiative highlights the Municipality’s unwavering commitment to reducing the impact of waste material, advocating the concept of recycling, and promoting the green circular economy.

This aligns with the Year of Sustainability in the UAE. Al Hajri further noted that the initiative is in line with the UAE Net Zero 2050 commitment and national targets, and the goals outlined in the Dubai Integrated Waste Management Strategy 2021-2041.

The approach involves diverting 98 per cent of waste from the landfill path, including 50 per cent recycled.

Carbon neutralisation

Al Hajri said: “The initiative reflects Dubai Municipality’s commitment to promote individual social responsibility levels and actively engage both public and private entities in a focused effort to mitigate harmful effects of plastic," Al Hajri said.

"Additionally, it seeks to bolster sustainability by diminishing the carbon footprint through offsetting the release of 102 tons of carbon dioxide gas, aligning with its strategic emphasis on comprehensive sanitation and waste management. The initiative aims to boost recycling, treatment, and electricity provision, ultimately enhancing the attractiveness and sustainability of Dubai.”