Zero plastic, zero emission to ensure strong biodiversity - GulfToday

Zero plastic, zero emission to ensure strong biodiversity


People put plastic bottles into the plastic recycling machine.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A vendo-like machine. Plastic bottles and aluminium cans. A bit of crackling. Silence.

With the world beleaguered with plastics and the Custom Market Insights having estimated global aluminum cans production – part of an industry estimated to emit 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – grow at 4.5 per cent annually until 2030, a Dubai-based company, in partnership with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), has introduced a technology that helps achieve the much-desired circular economy.

“The broader goal is to increase the recycling reflex and boost the circular economy in the UAE,” said Jerome Viricel on Monday evening, the 50th anniversary of the World Environment Day, in Dubai.

The RECAPP at Veolia Near & Middle East general manager added: “Our ultimate goal is to bring all services to all seven emirates, in line with our mission of supporting local communities as they strive to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Under the 160-year-old French company Veolia which has helped at least 79 million people across the world receive access to safe and hygienic drinking water and sanitation, RECAPP was launched by Veolia Near & Middle East, in November 2020, as the first recycling app in the UAE. From being the initiator of this pioneering recycling app, it has now transformed into a holistic digital recycling solution for individuals and businesses in order to at least mitigate if not totally eradicate landfills.

Thus, the contribution to the circular economy which is basically the three Rs of reduce, re-use and recycle; in contrast to the linear economy which is the manufacture of goods generally from natural resources that eventually become hazardous waste and sources of air and water pollution.

Early on and outside the SALT on Kite Beach in Dubai, Viricel demonstrated how a machine gobbles up a plastic bottle – of any size – and an aluminium can – of any size to be crashed – then compacted.

The activity generated so much curiosity. Viricel explained that the machine, which magically works with an app, is technically classified a “reverse vending machine” (RVM). It is produced by an RVM manufacturer and a complementary service to the free app-based door-to-door recyclable collection service of RECAPP which has been available for almost two years now.

The dimension of the 11 initial RVMs to be distributed in “prime locations with high footfall including tourist spots, malls, educational institutions and parks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is 90 centimeters (cms) in width, 65 cms in depth, and 183 cms in height.

Through it, plastic bottles and aluminium cans are collected to be transported to the RECAPP warehouse also in Dubai for the sorting out.

In particular, the crashed plastic bottles “are then baled to be transported to a local manufacturer of polyester fibres to be used as filling for cushions and pillows.”

Continuing the circular economy theory in practice, Viricel said: “We are also working on new products with local manufacturers that are able to recycle the plastic collected into plastics stripes for the packaging industry.”

EAD-Integrated Environment Policy and Planning Sector executive director Sheikha Al Mazrouei said: “As the largest environmental regulator in the Middle East, EAD is delighted to partner with Veolia in implementing this rewarding project by RECAPP. This initiative is very much in line with Abu Dhabi’s Single-Use Plastic Policy which was launched in 2020 and an extension of the agency’s ‘Mission to Zero’ public facing outreach campaign which aspires for the ambitious target of zero plastic, zero waste, zero emissions and zero harm to biodiversity. The campaign is composed of activations and advertising to engage the community to inspire a culture of recycling. Such initiatives play a critical role in generating public awareness on the importance of recycling single-use water bottles as a means to prevent them from entering the environment and harming it for a sustainable future.”

These, as the users also get redeemable points from RECAPP commercial partners.

Meanwhile, Viricel said that with the app-based door-to-door collection service and its 55,000 users, “more than 1,000 tonnes of recyclables, including 34 million PET (resin polyester-based) plastic bottles, one million of PET trays, one million aluminium cans, 1.5 million metal tins, and 1.8 million home care and personal care containers” had resulted in the decrease of carbon dioxide emission in the UAE by 2,100 tonnes.  


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