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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Mohammed Shana'a

Closing the materials loop
The United Arab Emirates currently has high levels of carbon emissions, and is highly resource intensive. In order for it to become better, a shift in the approach of the construction industry is necessary. Construction and demolition (C&D) waste made up over 50% of the waste generated and landfilled in the UAE in 2014. Additionally, the construction industry is estimated to be responsible for 60% of the annual raw material consumption in the UAE. Resource efficiency and waste minimisation are thus central to the UAE’s green growth strategy, and improvements in the construction and demolition industries are inevitably necessary for the UAE to succeed in achieving the targets it set out in Vision 2021. The circular economy model is an alternative, which can reconcile the UAE’s growth with environmental targets in the construction industry

The presence of market failures and barriers for achieving circularity necessiate govermental interventions. While the UAE has introduced some policies in the right direction, far more is required. Using identified metrics related to a circular construction industry, the study assesses international best practices that may be applied to the UAE, and then benchmarks the UAE’s performance. On that basis, a scenario analysis is used to determine to assess alternative policy options.   According to this study, the most effective policies to be introduced are fiscal, as they are in sync with the ‘cost’ driven nature of the construction industry. Thus, the waste generation tarrif can be used without a cap. Additionally, a landfill tax would best set up the UAE for recycling and reuse in the long term.