Dubai: Fried foods aren’t just bad for your heart.
The fats, oil and grease they are cooked in can also be detrimental to the environment every time the slimy liquids are poured down the drain and end up clogging municipal storm sewers and local waterways.
Every single day, 14,000 eateries across Dubai discard roughly 80,000 gallons (302,832 litres) of cooking fats, oil and grease from some of our most favourite kitchens, enough to fill 1,600 average-sized bathtubs.
But thanks to a public-private partnership called Envirol inked in 2006 between Dubai Municipality and Blue — an eco firm owned by Al Serkal Group — up to 50,000 gallons (189,279 litres) of the contaminated greasy waste in Dubai are being collected from 7,000 eateries and transported to Blue’s recycling plant in Al Warsan.
For every gallon of oil and grease recycled, that’s one less gallon being dumped in Dubai Municipal landfills and the city sewer system, lessening the threat of it permeating groundwater or making its way into the sea.
Grimy grease and oils from eateries and home kitchens dumped into storm sewers around the world are estimated to cause 70 per cent of drain and sewer backups and cost untold millions of dollars for municipalities to unclog.
The Blue recycling process converts 70 per cent of the oil waste to clean water to be used for irrigation, a further 20 per cent is converted to fertiliser for farming and gardening with the final 10 per cent turned into a refined oil to be converted to environment-friendly biodiesel.
Environmental protection is about to be strengthened as Blue expands its recycling plant to double its daily recycling capacity to 100,000 gallons per day to prepare for a growing Dubai food sector that is expected to reach 19,000 eateries by 2020.
Mohammad Al Kaabi, managing director of Blue, said the firm’s push to widen its capacity for sustainable waste management continues the tradition of the Al Serkal Group’s founding family which pioneered communications, water and electricity provision in the country.
The journey has been challenging for the firm which was only collecting 200 gallons a day in the early 1990s but through awareness campaigns and solid support from the municipality.
“The key was the support of the municipality, without it, we would not have been successful,” Al Kaabi told Gulf News from Blue’s headquarters, adding that the partners hosted “joint campaigns with hotels and restaurants to show them the right and wrong practices”.
Blue has now convinced more than half of the eatery sector in Dubai to ensure they properly dispose of their waste oil though on-premises grease traps which are then pumped out by private collection firms and the oily contents transported by registered tanker-trucks to Blue’s recycling plant, Al Kaabi said.
Rafael Sanjuro Lopez, regional general manager, Blue, said the firm was the first in the region to begin recycling fats, oil and grease waste to protect the environment and has made great strides to keep Dubai clean.
Lopez said as Blue works to widen its collection from a greater number of eateries, there remain two large challenges — “environmental awareness and convincing remaining restaurants to participate in the plan”.
Lopez said the main aim of the plan is “to look out for our community and the environment”.
Mathilde Allard Khalifa, Blue corporate social responsibility coordinator, said the firm launched its latest community outreach campaign in January called Best Kitchen to visit eateries not included in the collection plan and to explain to them the benefits of helping the environment.
Endorsed by the municipality, Khalifa said the campaign will run until June as part of Blue’s contribution to the Year of Giving by helping educate eateries to adopt best practices in the community for a safer environment and healthier residents.
For more details about Best Kitchen campaign, visit http://blue.ae/bestkitchen
Fats, oil and grease (FOG) collected include:
Butter and margarine
Sauces and more