The great extent of available land to use as landfill combined with its low costs have prevented recycling from being implemented fully in the UAE and the rest of the GCC countries. According to a study performed by the Centre of Waste Management Abu Dhabi in 2010, the emirate generates between 1.8 and 2.4kg of domestic waste per capita per day. In addition, a study by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi in 2009 suggests that waste from construction amounts to around 5.8kg per capita per day.
Dubai and the rest of the GCC countries have been reported to have similar numbers and are placed among the top for waste generation. Some estimates suggest the figure for the whole of the UAE could be as high as 3.5kg of domestic waste per capita per day.
Waste management is a relatively new concept in the region however Initiatives are being set to improve in this aspect and campaigns are taking place to raise public awareness. Limited control of waste transportation and treatment, disposal of waste in landfills and limited monitoring of waste generation leading to waste data being unavailable are key challenges the UAE is planning to address in order to establish efficient waste management systems.
Around 20-25% of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s waste is recycled. There is limited waste segregation at collection as well as limited control and enforcement of waste production. As much as 80% of the UAE’s waste ends up in landfills most of which are below international standards and lack basic environmental safeguards.
A large percentage of waste has been reported to derive from construction (~60%.). According to the waste management department at Dubai Municipality, food accounts for 33% of waste in Dubai. During the month of Ramadan, this has has been found to increase to up to 55%. A survey has found that 78% of UAE residents throw food weekly if not daily.
Solutions for the applications for the reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery and correct disposal of waste would help the UAE in managing more efficiently the waste generated.