Middle East: Efforts to tackle food waste

Nearly 38% of food is a daily waste in United Arab Emirates, which shoots up to 55% during the month of Ramadan. A minimum of 5% food wastage can be avoided by an effective food supply chain. Fleet operators, processors and producers have a major role to play with intelligent logistics, real-time checks and driver training. Logistics is seen much as a jigsaw puzzle which needs all its pieces in place to reduce any loss and wastage. Although little of waste can be prevented, increasing its scale will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits. Waste management industry has sprung up during recent years in the rapidly developing UAE. Statistics shows that the waste collected across the nation reached 26 million tonnes during 2012. There are projections that the amount of waste will raise to 8.4 million tonnes in a couple of years. Managing waste has gained momentum very recently in UAE and it has now adopted the Europian system of waste management which features minimizing waste and recycling whenever possible. Dubai municipality estimates about 25% of waste is recycled the present day and aims at increasing the stat to 75% by 2021. Municipalities have also joined hands with Public-private partnerships that are playing an important role in tending, segregating and recycling waste.

Averda, Dulsco, Trashco etc are a few UAEwaste2companies which are helping in this task. Supply chain consists of sorting lines which collects wastes from households, sorts and segregates them before compacting all the recyclable items and selling them. They also convert plastic films taken from garbage into plastic granules, which will be used to produce plastic bags again. Landscape waste such as grass, shrubs and leaves from municipality is used in making compost. Recently, there are also biogas plants acting on food waste to turn them into combustible methane, which in a long run also can reduce the pressure on exhaustible natural resources. This ensures close to 30% is the waste that actually goes into landfills.

Manual labour for collection and segregation is still a major setback in completely optimizing and automating the process. Fully integrated solutions are yet to be implemented for effectiveness. If there is improper waste segregation at source, the task forward becomes immensely tedious. To build a culture of sustainability, the regulations need to be stringent.

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