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Recycling

Reem Saad / Doha News

Harvey Russell has amassed nearly 23kg of cans since he moved to Qatar four years ago.

A local company that provides recycling bins and pickup service to homes for QR50 a month is broadening its reach in Qatar.

Global Metals LLC has been collecting, processing and recycling materials in the country since 2008.

After working with several private companies for years, it began offering home recycling services in 2014, but was met with very little success, its managers told Doha News.

Recycling is not a government requirement in Qatar, and there is a general lack of awareness and willingness to engage in the practice here, operations manager Andy Isip and marketing manager Shiela Licuanan said.

Where to start

Speaking to Doha News, Isip added that most people don’t know the benefits of recycling, or how to start.

“The first step to recycling is segregating and categorizing their waste. They need to make sure their waste doesn’t reach the landfills. As simple as that. But it can take a long time for people to do it on their own,” he said.

Two years ago, Global Metals experimented with offering free bins at compounds around Qatar, but found that residents were either throwing regular garbage in them, or not using the bins at all.

This is when they decided to implement a QR50 fee, Licuanan added.

Recycling bin at Al Fardan Gardens 7

Global Metals/Facebook

Recycling bin at Al Fardan Gardens 7

Now, the company offers at-home recycling services for almost 200 homes in the country.

How it works

It operates on a single-stream recycling system, in which all plastics, metals and other containers go into the same collection truck.

“We let residents put the recyclables in one bin only and we take care of the sorting in our facility. We don’t give them separate bins because recycling comes with a cost, especially since we are a private company. We don’t want to burden our clients by paying more for the bins,” Licuanan said.

A truck comes by every two weeks to empty the bins, which also include a separate one for paper products. Global Metals said it usually ships paper items to China for recycling, and processes the rest locally.

Recycling

Global Metals

Recycling

At some compounds, residents have put in requests for larger bins, which cost QR75 for a container that’s about double the size of the original.

So far, the company operates in residential compounds. It tries to entice customers by approaching the compound’s management team with flyers and informing them about its services.

It’s then up to the compound managers to enlist Global Metals, or to ask residents if they’re interested in the idea.

“We are not allowed to personally go to people’s homes and talk to them because people really respect privacy here,” Licuanan told Doha News.

“We are only allowed to speak to management, and if they agree, they let us hand out the flyers outside people’s homes, the clubhouse and reception areas. If residents are interested, they call us.”

Recycling spirit

Global Metals does not offer recycling services to individual flats or villas yet.

This and other barriers has made it hard for some residents who actually want to recycle to do so.

Harvey Russell's can collection

Reem Saad / Doha News

Harvey Russell’s can collection

For example, American expat Harvey Russell has been collecting soda cans every day for two years.

His current can collection surpasses 50 pounds (about 23kgs). He said for months, he’s been trying to contact recycling companies and newspapers to tell them about his collection.

But responders have either told them to drop off the bags himself or not replied at all.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Busch Systems/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“I don’t have transportation and there are too many bags for me to drop them off. It’s only reasonable for them as recycling companies to come pick it up themselves,” he told Doha News.

Growing up in the US, where recycling is required by law in most states, Russell said people simply need to be educated about its importance.

“I think it’s something that is really so easy to do but you ever so rarely see that bin that says ‘put your aluminum here, put your newspapers here, your plastic bottles here,’ ” he said.

“All it takes is educating the public and shaming them into walking an extra 10 feet to the bin. It’s not even the locals doing this. It’s us expats who are throwing things on the floor instead of where they belong.”

Russell will be leaving to the US for good next week, and his collection remains at his house for now.

What happens after pick-up

At first, Global Metals only recycled aluminum and metal. It eventually began processing plastics in 2010.

It is also the only company in Doha to partake in PET recycling, a category of recyclables that includes drinking bottles.

Recycling plastics

Global Metals

Recycling plastics

On average, the company receives 800 tons (nearly 800,000kg) of tin cans per month, all of which come from households via a supplier.

It also collects 300 tons (nearly 300,000kg) of plastic, and 180 tons (near 180,000kg) of aluminum.

The company has two recycling facilities, one in a 30,000sqm area in Umm Saeed, where plastic, aluminum and metal are recycled.

The other is in the Industrial area, where only ferrous materials are recycled in an area of 1,500sqm.

Failed attempts

Qatar has one of the world’s highest rates of waste production per capita, at around 1.6kg to 1.8kg each day.

This adds up to at least 7,000 tons of daily waste, with 30 percent (2,100 tons) generated by households.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Peter Kaminski/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The government has made several attempts to introduce wider recycling schemes, but all have seen limited success.

Earlier this year, a minister pledged to install more recycling bins around town.

There are several public recycling points through Doha – such as in Katara Cultural Village and outside some malls – and Ikea has a recycling drop-off station inside its store for plastics, paper, cardboard, light bulbs and batteries. Some housing compounds also run their own service.

But most of these rely on committed people driving some distance to dispose of their waste properly.

Thoughts?

Before and after snaps of a planter tire.

Nada Mohamed

Before and after snaps of a planter tire.

Not everything you own needs to be brand new to be useful or beautiful.

That’s the message behind Re.Tire, a new Qatar-based startup that repurposes abandoned tires into colorful furniture.

The business was launched by Nada Mohamed and her colleague, Moataz Mahdy, in April, who have been repurposing old tires into chairs, pet beds, planters and tables.

Re.Tire's at their second exhibition at The Pearl

Shabina Khatri / Doha News

Re.Tire’s Pearl-Qatar exhibition

The two Egyptian expats exhibited their wares this week during the Pearl-Qatar’s Eid show at Medina Centrale.

But trying to explain their message to people has been hard work, Mohamed told Doha News:

“We have to get the market warmed up to the idea. Not everyone in the country accepts healthy recycling.

They will tell you, ‘Okay this is cool, but I won’t buy it. I need a brand new thing.'”

Rubber slaps in the face

Though abandoned tires are plentiful in Qatar, fashioning them into something else is a long and tiresome process.

Mohamed researches and comes up with creative ways to reuse the tires, while Mahdy, a former engineer, uses his technical expertise to bring the designs to life.

Mohamed explained that the first step is to wash and clean the tire so that it is free from dirt and debris.

Then the tire is analyzed to see what it could be used for. Once the ideas are finalized, the shaping, cutting and snapping of the tire begins.

This, according to Mohamed, is the most difficult part since there is a lot of metal present within the tire that needs to be removed.

Re.Tire

Re.Tire/Instagram

Re.Tire

Also, the thick rubber has a tendency of snapping back in place, causing Mohamed and Mahdy to receive many rubber slaps in the face.

“But still, the fun part is making it,” Mohamed said, adding that the next step is the painting process.

The paints used for finalizing the product must be carefully chosen to ensure they are durable and sustainable in Qatar’s intense sunlight and hot weather.

Once the tire is painted, it’s ready to be showcased.

Entering the market

Re.Tire made its first public appearance at a local hotel exhibition of handicrafts in April, and received positive reviews, mostly from the expat community.

Its second exhibition was held at The Pearl during Eid.

Though most people have not yet quite warmed up to the idea of putting an old tire in their living rooms, some seem to be coming around.

Storage tire

Re.Tire/Facebook

Storage tire

And Mohamed said it is great to see that residents are starting to show an interest in startups that do not only focus on food and fashion. “It’s something that you actually produce,” she said.

One way that Re.Tire is trying to appeal to the market is by keeping their prices relatively low.

A “chill out” seat can cost anywhere from QR250 to QR350, depending on additional features that a customer asks for.

Future plans

Having just launched a few months ago, the company is still assessing its market opportunities.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Oriolus/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But the owners are hoping to get local authorities to support their endeavor.

“We hope we can get in touch with the government to raise awareness about recycling and reducing,” Mohamed said. “There’s other ways we can use tires rather than just putting them in the dumpsters, waiting for a fire to catch it and cause more pollution.”

Mohamed added that she hopes with the government’s help, Re.Tire can get permits to take tires from dumpsters, as well as work on creating gardens and other aesthetic outdoor pieces.

Meanwhile, her partner Mahdy has also started a company, Re.Pipe, that applies these ideas to create lamps and table posts out of old pipes.

A lamp by Re.Pipe

Re.Tire/Facebook

A lamp by Re.Pipe

Mohamed thinks there’s a lot more to be done for recycling and reusing for Qatar. She said:

“In Qatar, we have a lot of free time, people don’t really invest their time in doing anything. So just taking (a) few moments around and looking around at what we can (do to) develop ourselves and the country, would get us to a lot of other ideas. This is just one idea.”

Thoughts?

For illustrative purposes only.

New Port Project / Facebook

For illustrative purposes only.

Though construction picked up across Qatar in 2014, contractors across the country dramatically cut down on the amount of waste sent to landfills, recently released government figures show.

More than 9.35 million metric tons of construction waste was sent to landfills in Rawdat Rashid and Mesaieed in 2013, the Ministry of Planning Development and Statistics (MDPS) said in a wide-ranging environmental report released last week.

That dropped nearly one-quarter to 7.06 million tons in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available.

However, domestic waste continued to grow, the report said.

The amount of construction waste generated in Qatar fell 25 percent in 2014.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

The amount of construction waste generated in Qatar fell 25 percent in 2014.

Construction waste – which consists of excavated material and rubble, as well as scraps of insulation, wiring and metal used in building – made up 71 percent of all trash sent to landfills in 2014, down from 77 percent the previous year.

The report didn’t offer any explanation for the decline. However, it comes after years of proposals and various projects aimed at reducing the amount of waste generated by construction.

A major part of those efforts include recycling.

In 2012, the Ministry of Environment said it was finalizing standards for re-using construction waste in other projects.

The stretch of road made from recycled materials.

TRL

The stretch of road made from recycled materials.

Two years later, the ministry and Ashghal worked together to construct a 1-kilometer stretch of road using 210,000 tons of recycled stones from a construction site.

Proponents of this and similar projects say they hope it’s just the beginning:

“Despite the large quantities of construction waste generated, the use of recycled aggregate is still very limited,” Khaled Hassan, the country director of the Transport Research Laboratory at the Qatar Science Technology Park told Qatar Construction News earlier this year.

“There is great potential to convert construction waste from a landfill material … into quality aggregate.”

Meanwhile, Qatar Rail plans to reuse much of the dirt excavated from Doha Metro tunneling as embankments for the long-distance rail line.

However, with work on the GCC-wide network stalled, large mounds of rock and sand are still piled up at Qatar Rail’s Al Messila logistics center off Jassim bin Hamad Street, near Al Rayyan Road.

Domestic waste increasing

While less construction waste was sent to landfills in 2014, the amount of garbage produced by residents continued to increase.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Lesley Walker

Photo for illustrative purposes only

It climbed by more than 12 percent in 2014, increasing to 1.05 million tons from 930,663 tons and outpacing the growth in population that year.

Last year, a government official said a national recycling program – which would make it mandatory for households and government organizations to separate their trash – was in the works.

More recently, the minister of municipality and environment told the Central Municipal Council that his department was rolling out more recycling bins across the country.

Thoughts?