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Middle East Recycling


The Middle East has been slow to respond to the challenge of climate change, but Dubai is leading the way with a venture unique to the region — Dubai Recycling Park (DRP).

National Projects Holding Co. (NPHC), a subsidiary of the National Real Estate Co. of Kuwait, has signed an agreement with Dubai Industrial City (DIC), a subsidiary of Tatweer, to establish the first fully integrated waste management and recycling park in the Middle East.

“To be frank, it is as much an investment decision as it is a social responsibility decision,” says Musaed Al-Saleh, vice chairman and CEO of NPHC. “It is a profitable business model abroad,” he continues.


“However, when you try to adapt it to the Middle East, laws and regulations, are not currently in place to assist you, and to make it as profitable as it should be.

“For instance in Europe and the West tipping fees exist — they don’t here,” adds Al-Saleh. “Licences are available for certain types of recycling, but not all types. So as legislation progresses, profitability should go up.”

DRP will be developed on a site measuring 1,500,000 sq ft with a 49-year lease agreement with Dubai Industrial City, and a capital investment of up to US$150m. Construction is planned to commence in mid-2007 and will be completed within 18 months.

“The government, generally speaking, should privatise waste management and recycling,” urges Al-Saleh.

“There’s quite a bit of a learning curve that needs to take place on this issue, and no one entity — be it the business sector or the governmental sector — should place obstacles in front of the other in terms of trying to solve the global warming issue.

“The business community should come under pressure to tackle global warming, and there should be different taxes and different legislation for different types of industries,” he continues. “There should be incentives for companies to reduce the waste they produce, as the volumes of waste are tremendous in this region. For example there’s nowhere to recycle newspapers — you read five or six newspapers a day and it’s just being wasted on a daily basis.”

It is estimated that approximately 120 million tonnes of waste is currently produced in the GCC countries. 60% is from Saudi Arabia, 20% from the UAE and the rest is from Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Of the 120 million tonnes of waste, 55% is estimated to be construction and demolition waste, 20% municipal waste, 18% industrial waste and 7% hazardous waste.

Dubai is estimated to have the highest waste per capita production in the GCC, equating to an emirate total of 9.4 million tonnes per year, or 35% of the waste produced in the UAE. Waste production in Dubai is expected to increase from 10 million tonnes in 2004 to over 20 million tonnes by 2010.

“This may sound controversial, but it’s a fact that the Middle East has neglected [its environmental responsibilities],” argues Al-Saleh. “Countries in the region are all in the top 10 in the world in terms of waste production per capita. In terms of socially responsible investments it has been neglected — it simply wasn’t on the agenda. People were too focused on the profits side rather than the social responsibility side.”

It seems, however, as though Dubai is the exception in the GCC. The emirate is no longer reacting to the growing requirement of waste management based on current demand, but has taken the initiative to plan ten years in advance. “As a company we’re trying to play a role not only in terms of business and profit, but also in terms of contributing to the community, to society, and I hope bigger and larger companies will try to do this elsewhere in the region,” says Al-Saleh. “We are definitely breaking new ground. I hope this catches on because there is so much waste in the region, that if you set up another 10 of these recycling parks, there would be enough business.

“Since announcing the project we have received interest from Saudi Arabia to do the same thing, and also Qatar,” he continues.



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