Plastic Recycling – Vanden Recycling CEO, Damien van Leuven
Vanden Recycling has established a new location in Dubai, servicing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.
Currently, the recycling rate is less than 10% in the region. Established recycling ecosystems exceed 35% recycling rates. With research released last year finding that Saudi Arabia and UAE had gained a status of one of the world’s largest waste producers, the region is now pushing an agenda to reach improved diversion rates as soon as 2021. Vanden Recycling now handles over 50,000MT per year of plastic for recycling and covering more than 100 different grades of recycled plastics.
Vanden Recycling CEO, Damien van Leuven emphasized what steps could be taken to increase the recycling rate:
“Reduce the amount of unrecyclable packaging, educate the public on the impact of good separation, implement container return schemes (bring back schemes) and build high quality infrastructure so the material can be used in the circular economy.
Everything requires a balance. Regulations should be put in place to reduce unrecyclable materials entering the market, incentivise companies who use recycled material in their products and invest heavily in education to the public and industry.”
Damien further added: “The best way to make recycling convenient is actually very simple. Design and produce products with recycling in mind, collect and segregate materials at source (or implement bring back schemes) and recycle them to a high enough quality so they can be used in the circular economy. Recycling is often over complicated unnecessarily and therefore requires great technical innovation. If you focus on the quality of design and collection, materials can be used again and again.”
“The best way to make recycling convenient is actually very simple. Design and produce products with recycling in mind, collect and segregate materials at source (or implement bring back schemes) and recycle them to a high enough quality so they can be used in the circular economy. Recycling is often over complicated unnecessarily and therefore requires great technical innovation. If you focus on the quality of design and collection, materials can be used again and again,” said Damien.
Damien told us why it was important for them to set up an office in Dubai: “Although UAE has a low recycling rate now, they have ambitious plans to reach much higher levels and we see ourselves helping to achieve that. Right now we are looking for partners to work with locally to secure quality material supply and build infrastructure to make them leaders in the circular economy. There is an opportunity for food and beverage companies to join together and become leaders in recycling the waste their products produce to a high quality within the UAE. Everyone’s mindset must change to seeing Supply, rather than seeing waste!”
“The possibility to manufacture commodities and products from the waste materials collected from households is perhaps the biggest opportunity to have an impact on recycling and for the UAE to become a world leader in the sector.
Over the past 2 years we have developed an internal education and content creation team who travel the world to “pull the curtain back” on recycling and show what happens to materials and what they can be made into. Working with customers and local governments, we develop tailored education content for internal systems and external marketing. One of the best ways to kick start interest in recycling the right way is to leverage your sustainability efforts to create a positive impact for your brand. We see a great opportunity to bring this service to the market in the UAE to help build the culture of recycling.”
Damien on how companies can benefit by using Vanden Recycling: “We help transform their waste into a valuable commodity. If being a sustainable company is important to them or is likely to be a key driver for their customers in the future, then they must take action or risk being left behind. The benefit in this case is not only keeping the business you have, but we want to help you use recycling and sustainability to become a platform for growth in the future.”