Recycling is no original idea, but a new service is driving home the green message.
Whether it’s cans, old clothes, glass, paper, or even outdated and oversized mobile phones, Dubai has a lot of waste to dispose of. But beyond the brightly-coloured bins at your local supermarket one inspired engineer has come up with a green initiative to help residential communities in Dubai manage their waste.
Diya Khalil set up the Green Truck Recycling Transportation Service after a chance meeting with a German woman in Dubai who was so frustrated with the lack of recycling options that she was taking old printer cartridges back to Germany to recycle. ‘I thought it mind-blowing that someone had such dedication to do that’ says Khalil. ‘That was my motivation to start something’. Green Truck began as a charitable project: Khalil set up collection areas around Dubai and gathered 25 tonnes of plastics, metal, paper and other recyclables in three years, with proceeds from sales of the materials donated to the Dubai Autism Centre.
Seeing the scope for success Khalil decided to see how the business model could be developed into a sustainable business to benefit the community. He entered a business competition and won a Dhs50,000 investment which helped him launch the enterprise in May.
‘I think people were waiting for it,’ explains the founder. ‘People from different backgrounds, have different attitudes to recycling and sustainability, and they have different degrees of commitment. Some people are used to doing more for the environment in their communities and Green Truck is one of the things that gives them the opportunity to do so.’
Subscribers pay Dhs100 per month for weekly collections, and Green Truck provides the household with a green wheelie bin to put paper, cans, glass and used electronics in. The bins are emptied every week from right outside your house, and then separated by EnviroServe, Green Truck’s partners, before finally being sold to UAE-based recycling factories to be reused as raw materials. Khalil explains that even though the items are sold on, it’s far from being a money-spinner. ‘Money from sales goes back into the business, but there’s very small value in these materials. A tonne of recyclables could go for between Dhs100 and Dhs300, so there’s not huge revenue to make a profit out of. Especially glass, it goes for nothing, we just deliver it to them for it to be used.’
The service currently only operates in gated villa communities such as Jumeirah Park, The Greens Community, Dubai Motor City and Palm Jumeirah but Khalil is now also looking at the practicalities of establishing the scheme for the city’s many residential towers too.
Though the initiative has been well received in the neighbourhoods it serves, not everyone has caught the green bug. ‘To be honest we have had very diverse feedback’ says Khalil. ‘It completely depended on the individual. Some, we didn’t have to do any convincing, they just jumped at the chance to recycle. Others wanted to recycle but were not happy with carrying any cost, others were just not interested at all.’
At present Khalil has 70 fully subscribed users of the service and one collection truck. The company is still very much in its infancy but Khalil says Dubai has the capacity to be far more environmentally active. ‘There are people who were chasing me to come and do recycling in their areas. There’s a dedication of people who are environmentally conscious and there’s a huge passion for recycling among the people who are interested in it.’
Khalil also ensures his own household recycles. ‘Of course we recycle at home – we’re the only ones in Sharjah that do,’ he jokes. The environmental engineer has not extended the scheme into other emirates yet, but he’s hoping that the interest in the scheme and further information and education about recycling and environmental issues will increase the subscribers to the service. Khalil has already had interest from Abu Dhabi where he is aiming to extend the service later this year.
Khalil is optimistic about his expectations for Green Truck, as more communities in Dubai become more aware of the benefits of recycling. Despite some resistance to subscriber recycling services he’s positive that the green shoots of recycling will spread around the region.
‘I am certain it will catch on it’s only a matter of time. I know it’s growing, and people are campaigning to get their communities involved, and with this kind of response I’m confident it will take off.’
To organise collection in your community visit www.greentruck.ae (04 885 2434).
More ways to recycle
Pop into selected Spinneys supermarkets, including Umm Suqeim, Al Wasl, Ramada and Trade Centre Road in Dubai Khalidiyah, and you’ll find recycling containers where you can safely discard household waste and old mobile phones.
Public recycling centres
Dubai Municipality have a number of public centres where you can drop off plastics, card, and aluminium cans. These are located at the Rashidiya Shopping Centre, and Safa Park.