LONDON: Riyadh is set to get a citywide recycling plan to tackle more than 20 million tons of building rubble on eyesore vacant plots while turning household waste into compost.
Demolition waste will be removed from sites around the city and turned into construction aggregate while at the same time residents will be encouraged to start separating their waste for recycling into two bins instead of one.
Saudi Investment Recycling Co., a unit of the Public Investment Fund, has teamed up with the National Waste Management Center and the Riyadh Municipality to drive through the changes as city chiefs aim to recycle 81 percent of the 3.4 million tons of waste produced in the capital each year. They have also set a target to recycle almost half of the 5 million tons of construction and demolition waste.
Saudi Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadli and Riyadh Mayor Tariq bin Abdul Aziz Al-Faris revealed details of the plan on Sunday.
“The main thing is convincing society that recycling is needed but that it also costs money,” Saudi Investment Recycling Co. CEO Jeroen Vincent told Arab News in an interview ahead of the official launch of the scheme.
“It is important to convince the Saudi people about the purpose of this. With all countries that introduced such schemes, it has always been with a combination of regulation and enforcement and a good awareness program.”
Currently most waste in the city ends up in landfill sites and earlier attempts to introduce the segregation of waste have not gained traction. However, Vincent said with the proper combination of financing, enforcement and infrastructure, the new recycling initiative should meet with more success.
He sees increased public awareness of global warming and the Kingdom’s more environmentally aware younger generation as other important factors.
“I was quite surprised that a lot of the 50-plus generation keep telling me ‘we are not in the Netherlands, we are not in Germany, we do things differently,’ but with having such a young population in Saudi Arabia, people are banging on the door to work with us because they see that ecology needs to go hand in hand with economy.”
Riyadh has already started to roll out a two-bin system of waste collection in two districts of the city and now the scheme is being rolled out through the rest of the capital and around the Kingdom.
Residents will be given two bins — a green one for recyclable and residual waste and a black one for food waste. They will be collected on alternate days.
In May, the Saudi Environment Ministry signed an agreement with the UN to boost environmental protection and safeguard natural resources in the Kingdom.
City chiefs worldwide are struggling to deal with domestic waste following moves by China and other Asian nations to stop accepting exported waste from Europe and North America.