As part of its vision of a single-use plastic-free Abu Dhabi, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is launching a dynamic challenge for Abu Dhabi schools to encourage a culture of recycling for single-use plastic bottles.

Entitled ‘Pile it Up’, EAD will challenge schools in Abu Dhabi against each other to collect and return single-use plastic water bottles for a two-month period, with all collected waste to be sent for recycling. EAD is collaborating closely with Emirates Schools Establishment for the success of the ‘Pile it Up’ challenge.

Running between 23rd September to 22nd November, participating schools could see their winning performance during the challenge rewarded with a grand prize of AED 12,000. The first runner up will receive AED 10,000, while the second runner up will get AED 8,000.

In total there are cash prizes for seven winners, and schools winning cash prizes needs to allocate the funds towards sustainable environmental projects at school. The winners are selected based on the highest number of bottles collected, and most importantly recycled. The top seven schools will be featured on EAD social media channels, and all schools will receive certificates.

Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director of Environment Information, Science Outreach Management Division at EAD, said: “The younger generation today is increasingly eco-conscious and can play an influential role in encouraging their peers and families to get real on efforts to safeguard the environment, which is the core mandate of EAD. We want to harness their concern, show them that we mean business and get their support for our Mission to Zero movement against single-use products.”

He added: “Therefore, we have chosen the ‘Pile it Up’ challenge as a tool to encourage them to play a pro-active role in nurturing a culture of recycling for single-use plastic bottles. We prepared the schools for the challenge by launching a dedicated awareness campaign guiding the students about EAD’s Single-Use Plastic Policy. To ensure that they exert serious efforts and to help develop a competitive edge to the challenge, we believe that several students will rise to the occasion and strive to recycle as many single-use plastic bottles as possible, as well as shift to multi-use products and lead a more sustainable lifestyle. The crux is in the students striving to recycle as many bottles, not just collect them. By providing an incentive of cash prizes for several winners, students will feel appreciated and recognised for their hard work.”

He concluded: “Youth are the future of Abu Dhabi and by ingraining them with positive habits, we are contributing to their development as role models for environmental conservation, and helping them create a safer and healthier city for them and their children to live in.”

Mission to Zero is an ambitious aspirational campaign that strives to reach a target of zero for single-use plastic, waste and carbon emissions to make the emirate the most liveable place in the world. It followed the launch of the Single-Use Plastic Policy by EAD in 2020 and on June 1st 2022, Abu Dhabi imposed a ban on single-use plastic bag with major retailers.