Picking up Plastic – RAK Recycles on a Mission To Clean Up the Coastline

3 mins

Major beach clean-ups across Ras al Kaimah are being staged over the coming weeks as the emirate looks to protect its coastlines. Nick Ames has more 

The shores of the northern emirate form one of the most important breeding grounds for turtles in the region, but mounting levels of plastic pollution are slowly killing them off.

The evidence is clear to see as an increasing number of bodies wash onto the Emirate’s sandy shores.

It is for this reason, amongst others that RAK Recycles, part of RAK Waste Management Agency, was formed in June 2017 to conduct weekly beach clean-ups.

But it is not only turtles that are falling victim to our plastic obsession that often ends up out to sea.  The non biodegradeable material is also entangling itself in seagrass beds – an important food source for marine life – causing swifter currents which rip the plants from the sea floor.

Other garbage left on shore buries itself in the sand causing an impenetrable barrier to wildlife such as crabs which migrate from shore to sea, meaning they starve to death unable to reach their feeding environment.

Janet Hartenzberg, outreach co-ordinator for RAK recycles said: ‘Ras al Kaimah has some of the most beautiful beaches in the region but they were becoming terribly littered and many of the discarded items were being washed into the ocean.

‘We can’t clean the sea but we can clean the beach. And it’s also part of our aim to educate people. We talk to picnickers who often don’t realise their small discarded items are washed into the sea. They just relied on waste management staff to pick them up.’

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Vistors were surprised to hear their litter often heads out to sea. Image: RAK Recycles

RAK Recycles said the reaction to its campaign has been ‘really positive’ with residents becoming increasingly conscious of how their actions and the products they use impact the environment locally and globally.

The last beach clean-up at Al Margan saw more than 300 volunteers from all over the UAE collecting 1,320 kgs of waste in one hour.

The team included groups such as Sea Shepherd Middle East, RAK Ceramics, RAK Medical Health Sciences University, Hilton Hotel Group and RAK Hospital.

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Many organisations have got involved including Sea Shepherd Middle East

According to RAK Recycles, approximately 50 per cent of waste found on the beaches is washed in by the current, much of this being produced by fishermen who discard their fishing nets and lines while at sea.

The other half is litter left by visitors to who fail to correctly dispose of polystyrene and plastic items, tin cans and other rubbish.

Hartenzberg added: ‘As an agency we are beyond proud of how members of the Ras Al Khaimah community have volunteered their free time to clean up our beautiful beaches, that are the source of much joy for residents and visitors alike.

‘Not only are the beaches in Ras Al Khaimah some of the most stunning in the UAE but they are home to so much marine life, whose habitat is threatened by irresponsible human actions.

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Image: RAK Recycles

‘The RAK Recycles beach clean up initiative is doing more than removing a colossal amount of one use plastic and other litter from the beaches, it aims to educate the public about the virtues of sustainability – inspiring people to recycle because they want to, not because they have to.’

The next beach cleans are are scheduled for:

Saturday 24th March | Bin Majid Beach 8am- 10 am

Saturday 7th April | Rams Beach |8am- 10 am

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