BY PMA RASHEED
10 May 2010, The Gulf Today
MORE than 22,000 kilogrammes of trashed aluminium cans have been collected in the colossal aluminium can collection drive run by Emirates Environmental Agency (EEG) across the UAE on two different occasions this year.
The Emirate of Dubai recorded the highest collections of cans during the year. The EEG volunteers collected about 5,000 kilogrammes of aluminium cans in the can collection day organised on Feb.25, said the EEG chairperson Habiba Al Marashi.
"Meanwhile, the trashed cans collected in the year 2009 measured only at 18,000 kilogrammes. In 2008, the drive resulted in the collection of 12,350 kilogrammes of aluminium cans delivered for recycling," she added.
The 13th cycle of EEG's can collection drive with the participation of hundreds of eco-warriors from various schools, colleges, governmental institutions and corporate houses took place last Monday simultaneously at 12 locations across the seven Emirates.
"The aim of the can collection campaign was to give the UAE a cleaner and more sustainable country to live in, as it has one of the highest global rates of domestic waste generation," noted Al Marashi.
She said the initiative spread awareness about the negative effects on our lives due to the waste generated from daily-use products such as aluminum cans, which are hazardous, if they reach a landfill site.
According to her, such debris could be recycled many times, retaining their quality and posing no threat to the environment.
"By recycling aluminium cans, we not only save our precious natural resources but also considerably reduce the carbon emissions from the raw aluminium production process. Recycling produces significant cost savings over the production of new aluminum even when the cost of collection, separation and recycling are taken into account," she pointed out.
"Over the long term, even larger national savings are made when the reduction in the capital costs associated with landfills, mines and international shipping of raw aluminum are considered," added Al Marashi.
"Through a single drive, the environment will gain major benefits in the long run. It will help to correct attitudes, change wasteful and thoughtless habits, build sustainable approaches to consumption, and increase the community's capacity for environment protection," she observed.
According to her, there is still considerable public ignorance and apathy about the benefits of collecting waste for recycling. However, recycling is slowly becoming a more desirable way of fulfilling environmental responsibilities in the UAE.
"The positive impact of recycling aluminium cans is apparent in a number of ways, such as helping in the recovery of secondary raw materials, reducing energy and water consumption associated with manufacturing from primary raw materials, diverting waste away from landfills and reducing pollution," said the environmental advocate.
"During the culmination of this year's can collection programme, the participants thronged to their designated sites in time slots from 8.30am to 12.30pm with their collections, which ranged from two kilogrammes from individuals or families to 2000 kilogrammes from hotels and catering houses," she explained.
The EEG launched the can collection campaign in 1997. As of 2009, EEG has diverted 106,406 kilogrammes of aluminum cans from the UAE landfills for recycling.
Al Marashi said that the EEG's initiative to popularise waste management took on added urgency as the nation grows in population and resource consumption increases.
"The campaign heralded the growing proactive support and mass mobilisation of individuals across all sectors for overcoming the critical issue of domestic waste," she concluded.