Visitors to Expo City on Monday had the opportunity to turn plastic bottle caps into plant pots and dismantle their old gadgets to gain insights into recycling. The event, marking Global Recycling Day, encouraged visitors to bring their own plastic bottles, cans, cardboard, and old devices to discover methods for reusing them.

It was a moment of clarity for 13-year-old Rahul Akula, who visited the facility as part of a school trip. “I always used to see these separated garbage bins everywhere but never paid attention to it,” he said. “Today, they explained to us what to put in which bin and why segregating was important.”

Recycling has been heavily encouraged in the UAE recently, with residents encouraged to be sustainable. Dubai Municipality’s waste management department has an ambitious plan to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills to zero over the next decade.

Recycling has received significant boost in the UAE recently, urging residents to adopt sustainable practices. Dubai Municipality’s waste management department has set forth an ambitious plan to eliminate the disposal of waste in landfills entirely within the next decade.

Local companies

Several local startups were part of the event at the Al Wasl Dome. One was Precious Plastic Dubai, run by Mexican expat Hernan Torres. A full-time flight attendant, Torres began the company as a passion project. “I have been living in the UAE for 11 years now, and I wanted to give back to the country,” he said.

With the help of a global network of like-minded environment enthusiasts, Torres has built a cycle that helps crush and pulverise plastic bottles and caps when pedalled. “I just finished building it two weeks ago,” he said. “This is the first time I have brought it out in public, and I already see some minor tweaks that I need to make. I don’t have an engineering background, so it takes me up to 6 months to complete building one machine.”

Once crushed, the plastic is put in a separate machine, which melts and converts the plastic into various items, including keychains, plant pots and coasters. Torres said his biggest challenge was to find time for the passion project. “I have a full-time job and am raising two daughters,” he said. “So, I struggle to find time to work on the project, but I am determined to push forward. Sometimes, when travelling, I go to local recycling places and see if there are ways to collaborate with them.”

Recycling subscription

Another local startup that was at the event was Reloop and its sister-concern Ecyclex. It had a session where visitors could bring their old devices and dismantle them to see how they worked. “The students especially were excited to see the parts of their device,” said co-founder Youssef Chehade.

Ecyclex, founded in 2012, refurbishes useable gadgets and sells unusable parts to factories. In 2021 Reloop was established, offering recycling subscription services to homes and corporations.

Priced at Dh25 for a one-time collection and Dh69 for a monthly subscription with four collection trips, the service collects everything from plastics and cardboard to batteries and cooking oil. “Very soon, we will also start collecting food from individuals,” he said. “These will then be composted and used as fertilisers.”

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