Recycling initiative in Kuwait counters landfill overflow: Is it enough?

By Bodoor Al-Zanki

Babu a Bangladesh cleaner was picking up plastic bottles and cans outside of Kuwait’s Scientific Center recently, which was nothing unusual.

It’s something he has been doing nearly every day for the past 10 years.

“I earn, one or two dinars when I sell recyclable material,” he says. “Tin cans for 50 fils a kilo, and cardboard boxes for 30 fils.”

Babu said he has been an organized type of guy all his life. Now he is using his passion for recycling to make the world a cleaner place.

In many ways, Kuwait needs more Babus to help counter what has been come a nearly unmanageable problem: Tons of waste being fed into landfills daily with not enough of it being recycled.

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A mechanical shredder at Kuwait’s Metal and Recycling Company.

Public garbage dumpsters are managed by the several municipalities across the country which commonly clutter landfills and periodically set them alight to manage space. 

According to The Gulf News, the number of city-owned bins has tripled in last four years.

Currently, Kuwait relies heavily on cleaners in the streets or in the beach from Bangladesh and other Asian countries to pick up its waste.

Those cleaners pick garbage from streets and separate recycle materials to sell them later to various recycling companies in Kuwait and get paid minimum KD 60 (US$ 200) per month, according to Babu.

“Kuwait is not an appealing environment for recycling,” says Fayez Algharabally, a worker at Kuwait’s Metal and Recycling company who thinks it is exceedingly important to increase public awareness on the issue.

“Pollution is one of the main problems in Kuwait,” he says.

Shakir Al-Essa, owner of Metal and Recycling company, has been working in the field since 2007 and says he recycles 95% of his personal waste.

The Metal and Plastic CompanyKuwait won an award in recognition of distinctive environmental awareness and recycling distribution in Kuwait. The award was given by the government of Kuwait in 2014.

AlGharabally says: “The workers in the company work extremely hard to recycle our matter, they take their job seriously by collecting different types of plastic and metals all over Kuwait then chipping it and then melting it down into pellets.”

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A yellow crane piles up old cars for recycling in Kuwait.

There are 40 employees total in the company, categorized into three groups: A unit for only plastic substance, a unit for metals and a unit that scraps both plastic and metals.

According to Faisal Hamad, one of the analysts from the Metal and Recycling Company “we collect 500 tons of plastic a month and 10 thousand tons metal a month.”

According to Kuwait Times, Asmaa Al Ateeq, a Kuwaiti woman has invested in the field of recycling by inventing a smart bin that is linked to the internet.

To solve the issue of waste management and recycling Al Ateeq has invented smart bin in an electric device- that is sorted inside the bin automatically.

“Based on the weight value of the total waste, we compensate the user by bank transfer or cash. The bin, on the other hand, will be connected to an online data network that will send information and notify us if it is time to empty it,” said Asmaa, who added that users can be “Anyone with a valid civil ID and a smartphone.”

“The bin will not confuse one user with another, as the data is linked to each user’s civil ID number”

Meanwhile, Babu continues to clean up Kuwait’s shores.

“If you want to survive in this world, you should work really hard with what you have and what you have earned,” he says. “I spend most of my income that I have raised by recycling to pay my own bills, and the rest is for my family back home.

“It is not plenty but I’m surviving”


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