Sunday, June 30, 2013


In the West, most cities require recycling. For one thing, aluminium is made from bauxite and electricity, and I've heard that it takes half an aluminium can full of LNG to generate the electricity used to make the aluminium in the can. So, in the West, empty aluminium cans are worth money and can be easily recycled. Used paper, in the West, was once worth money, so the typical family saved their clean papers and sold them back before the end of WWII. Now, there's a greater supply of used paper than demand, so used paper has no monetary value.

But, in Western cities, there is no place to dump waste, so many cities require that everything be recycled. People must separate their trash into aluminium, glass, clean paper, organic, and plastic. Even if there is no real demand for used paper, the cost of disposal is so high, a use MUST be found.

Anyway, to be Western, Dubai put up recycling boxes at bus stops several years ago. At first, only at a few bus stops, so, if I wanted to recycle, I had to walk a few kilometres. Then Dubai put recycling bins at every bus stop, so I had about 20 metres to go to recycle, and I recycled all my clean paper and aluminium.

But, when I went to the recycle bins, all were full of fast food detritus. Half eaten food. Dirty food boxes. To which I added my aluminium cans (to the aluminium bin) and my clean paper (to the paper bin).

But then Dubai removed all the recycle bins.

Then the Dubai malls put in recycle bins, so I tried bringing aluminium cans.

One thing many of us never think of is that one must pay for trash pickup. For most of us, it's included in the rent, so we don't think of it. But those who do have to pay for it often take their trash and dump it in someone else's trash bin. Mall security guards are told to be on the look out for this, and not to let people dump their private trash in the mall bins.

So, when I brought all my aluminium cans, the security guard told me, 'This only for cans you buy in Mall. Not for home cans. Put in home bin.'

It appeared, while the can SAID 'Recycle aluminium cans here', it was ONLY for trash from the mall, any trash (half eaten food and food boxes from the food court filled the aluminium recycle box). And, when the recycle box gets full, the cleaners dump it in the mall trash bin with the rest of the mall trash.

In Dubai, of course, there are few people and much Empty Quarter, so there is no problem finding a place to dump the city's trash.

And there seems to be no market for recycled aluminium.

However, there IS a market for recycled newsprint. As I was taking my old newspapers to the Dubai recycling bin (before it was removed) two people asked me to give them those newspapers. Both knew someone who bought old newspapers for recycling, and paid an amount they found quite a nice supplement to their wages. I have no idea what the buyer does with the old newspapers, since I'd have to speak Urdu or Hindi to find out (he doesn't speak English or Arabic). So now I give all my old newspapers to one of those two who approached me, sure my old newspapers will be recycled.

Now if only I could figure out how to get my used aluminium cans recycled...