Calling for collaboration: UAE makes big moves to lure investments for sustainable economic development

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

The UAE will build its first food-grade plastic recycling plant amid moves to boost collaborations and bolster the country’s shift to a circular economy. ©Getty Images
The UAE will build its first food-grade plastic recycling plant amid moves to boost collaborations and bolster the country’s shift to a circular economy. ©Getty Images

Related tags Uae Circular economy Sustainability Recycling Plastic Investment

The UAE will build its first food-grade plastic recycling plant amid moves to promote local and international partnerships to bolster the country’s shift to a circular economy.

As the spotlight on sustainability grows brighter, the market for recycled materials is forecasted to exceed US$46bn by 2025.

At the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), held from 14 January to 19 January 2023, the UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) announced several initiatives aimed at attracting domestic and international investors to support sustainable economic development.

One of them is the plan to establish a plastic recycling plant in Abu Dhabi, which would significantly reduce plastic waste and spur economic growth through the export of food-grade recycled materials.

The plant is set to be a multi-partner collaboration between Veolia Middle East’s subsidiary Repeet, UAE-based sustainability pioneer Beeah Group, and F&B conglomerate Agthia.

“Collaboration is the key driver towards a more sustainable and competitive industrial sector, as well as a greener economy. The ministry is focusing on facilitating partnerships between stakeholders such as financial institutions, local industrial companies and global corporations, with the goal of not only supporting GDP growth, but also the global climate agenda,”​ said Omar Al Suwaidi, undersecretary of MoIAT.

Under the plan, Repeet would run the plant, BEEAH Group would supply polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for recycling over seven years, and Agthia would purchase the recycled PET resin during the same period.

PET is commonly used in food packaging, such as plastic bottles, while food-grade recycled PET resin can be made into various types of food and beverage containers.

When operating at full capacity, the 40,000 square-metre facility will be able to process up to 12,000 tonnes of PET per year.

It is also projected to avert the emission of 18,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Unlocking opportunities

Furthermore, the MoIAT is looking to expand its recycling market via a new regulation, which will allow more companies to use recycled PET.

However, the recycled PET must be produced by MoIAT-approved facilities that have obtained documents attesting to an effective quality control system and good manufacturing practices.

These include a report from an accredited lab in the UAE to verify that the recycled product has passed a safety test; a report indicating the recycled product is compliant with health and safety requirements; and a risk assessment report on the quality and safety of recycled raw materials intended for bottling drinking water.

“The new regulation will attract investments to bolster our shift to a circular economy, and help transform Ras Al Khaimah into a regional and global industrial hub. It is also in line with the UAE’s commitment to fulfil its Net Zero 2050 goal (a national initiative to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050),”​ Omar Al Suwaidi reiterated.

At the same time, the MoIAT hopes to encourage local firms to join Industry 4.0, a project targeted at increasing productivity and the development of innovative products.

On the international front, the MoIAT has signed a MOU with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies to meet the economic and carbon-reduction targets of both countries.

In addition, the agreement serves to enhance collaboration between Emirati and Japanese companies in exploring joint-investment opportunities, particularly in the energy sector.

This also lays the groundwork for further partnership discussions ahead of the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will be held in the UAE later this year.

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