UAE plans the first food-grade plastic recycling plant to help promote circular economy and growth of sustainable industries

UAE plans the first food-grade plastic recycling plant to help promote circular economy and growth of sustainable industries 

This opportunity is in-line with the UAE’s Net Zero Carbon target “2050” and Make It In The Emirates Initiative.

The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) on 17th January 2023 oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which will lay the groundwork for a new plastic recycling facility in the UAE. 

Under the plans, a 12,000 tons per annum polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant has been earmarked for Abu Dhabi. In line with the UAE’s efforts to reduce plastic pollution and boost trade through the export of recycled materials, the plant will recycle PET, a plastic material that is used in food packaging, such as plastic water bottles. The 40,000 square meter facility in Abu Dhabi could create 100 jobs and avoid the emission of 18,000 metric tons of CO2 annually at full operating capacity.  

The MoU to study the feasibility of the project, which involves Repeet, BEEAH Group, and Agthia, was signed in the presence of Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Executive Director of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators, His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

HE Omar Al Suwaidi said: “Collaboration is the key driver behind the shift towards a more sustainable industrial sector and a greener economy. Accordingly, the ministry focuses on facilitating partnerships between stakeholders, including financial institutions, national industrial companies, and global corporations, with the aim of supporting GDP growth as well as the UAE’s net zero strategic initiative. 

HE Al Suwaidi added: “As we approach COP28, the ministry will continue to amplify the important initiatives that fall under the national industrial strategy. For instance, we will utilise Make it in the Emirates to attract international investors and companies to engage with the UAE’s industrial sector to help us unlock the opportunities associated with industrial transformation, and circular economy. These opportunities will ultimately help to build a more sustainable, efficient and competitive industrial sector, supporting not only the national economy, but also the global climate agenda.”

Plastic pollution causes major damage to the environment and in particular ocean ecosystems. But by managing plastics effectively, countries can protect the environment while also supporting economic growth and the development of a local circular economy. The recycled plastics market is expected to grow significantly as companies pivot towards using recycled materials in their products. The market for recycled materials is expected to top $46 billion by 2025.

The MoU was signed between Veolia Middle East subsidiary Repeet, UAE-based sustainability pioneer BEEAH Group, and F&B conglomerate Agthia. In the frame of the project under study, Repeet would operate the recycling plant, while BEEAH Group would supply a seven-year feedstock of plastics. Meanwhile, Agthia would provide a seven-year offtake for products. The feedstock will be post-consumed PET bottle bales while the offtakes will be food grade recycled PET resin.

This partnership comes in line with MoIAT’s recent ministerial decree regulating the trade of recycled plastic water bottles. The move aims to facilitate the manufacturing of water bottles using recycled plastic in line with top public health and food safety standards. With time, more local water bottling companies are expected to embrace this circular economy journey and introduce more and more recycled plastic to produce their packaging. This is projected to eliminate 50,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, to enhance the national in-country value by AED 150 million annually, and to create more than 1000 jobs. 

MoIAT works closely with industrial stakeholders, including financial institutions, to leverage incentives and enablers that lead to a business-friendly environment that is attractive to investors. As part of the UAE’s national industrial strategy, the ministry has introduced various programs and initiatives that support the sustainable development of priority sectors, contributing to the nation’s economic diversification.

The ministry has a sizeable presence at ADSW, which takes place this week in the run-up to COP28. ADSW provides an opportunity for the global community to turn ambition into action, by forging partnerships, committing investment, and launching technologies and solutions that can accelerate sustainable development around the world.

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