I’ve been looking for a place to recycle waste in Riyadh for a long time. Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get from readers are “where to recycle clothes, old appliances, glass, metal, batteries etc”.
I must admit, one of the most shocking things for me in transitioning to life from Finland to Saudi Arabia was the lack of recycling practices. Coming from a Scandinavian country, where we recycle almost everything (by law!) I felt like a criminal throwing glass jars and metal cans into the trash bin along with all the other rubbish. Recycling becomes a part of life when you are used to it from an early age, and recycling doesn’t really take that much of an extra effort. So the people who are already used to the system and mindset or materials being reused for other purposes feel guilt when they have to throw away everything in the same bin.
The problem that many people face in Riyadh has been where to take all these glass, plastic, paper and metal products for recycling? Where to donate all this old clothing to? How about old furniture and appliances? I was most shocked to find out that even batteries are regularly thrown in the same garbage dump.
I was so happy to hear about a recycling place in Riyadh where we can take all this problematic and toxic waste and everything can be dropped off in one place. Recycle center map location at the end of this post!
The use of plastic in Saudi Arabia is extremely worrisome. Whenever I go out to the beautiful desert and other amazing places that can be found in Saudi Arabia, I see what kind of detrimental effect humans and their obsession for plastic bags, water bottles and plastic cutlery does to nature.
Recycling in Saudi has always been close to my heart and I’ve written about it previously in this article: Recycling the Saudi Values and this list of Ten Ways to recycle in KSA
One of my pet peeves is going to the supermarket, pharmacy or a baqala (small convenience store), where every single small thing you buy will be placed in one plastic bag. Why? Why is there a need to put a tiny box of medicine for example, into a plastic bag? When I can just put it in my pocket, or handbag or carry it in my hand!
The use of plastic bags in Saudi Arabia is totally out of control.
The country is drowning in plastic.
Sadly, going to the desert nearby Riyadh often means having to mingle with a bunch of left behind picnics, plastic bags and bottles. Same goes for the public beaches around Jeddah and Gizan, and the valleys, national parks and the beautiful forests in Asir. Pretty much anything within a 50 km radius from a city is going to look like a garbage yard due to those very same plastic bags we are forced to use everyday, and which people with complete disregard to nature throw onto the ground.
Sometimes large trash cans are provided in some areas, but they’re not emptied at all, or not often enough. Weather conditions and animals cause the trash to fly out of the garbage cans out into the nature. Other animals will come and spread trash around further. The large yellow trash cans we can see in many places have no lids, so all the birds and cats can just jump in and take the trash outside and it spreads around, even if humans tried to do the right thing and dispose of their waste in them.
Plastic bags bags should be BANNED in Saudi Arabia, like they already have in several places around the world. The plastic bags can be replaced by cloth bags, paper bags, or reusable bags.
An example of the plastic madness from everyday life in Riyadh: When you go to a grocery store the have baggers who are actually TRAINED TO WASTE PLASTIC. I know a lot of people reading this from outside KSA will not believe anything so absurd could be the norm in the year 2018 but it’s true. Yes, the bagger is instructed to use a mass load of bags for a just a couple of grocery items. Go to any grocery chain in Saudi Arabia and you’ll find the same problem, the baggers never fill the bags up, unless the customer specifically asks and insists otherwise. This has got to change!!!
For example if the customer buys a bottle of milk, a shampoo, a loaf of bread and some bananas, instead of using ONE single bag to pack all of them, these would be placed in five bags, double one for the bananas.
Every single time I go to the grocery store I face the same issue that I have to go and instruct the bagger to fill the bags up and stop wasting so much plastic. They give me weird looks but I still do it, because it’s really the least I can do if I don’t have a reusable bag with me. Sometimes they won’t understand and that’s when I just take the bags and start filling them up myself, I’ve also taught this to my children and they will advise and help the baggers each time. It’s definitely not the norm to do this and most people seem to have no idea why I wouldn’t want all those plastic bags.
An even better option would be to always remember to have your own reusable shopping bag for packing groceries. Although I’ve noticed that the baggers will not know how to use the reusable bags, unless instructed. They first try to place the items in the plastic bags then place all those inside the reusable bag! You can’t make these things up!
Everyone can start making small changes life, DAILY. Everyone can do it. REFUSE to take that plastic bag. Get a reusable bag for groceries. Tell the bagger to use less plastic. Refuse that straw, you don’t really need it. Take your glass, batteries and metal waste to recycle unit. Most people have drivers, give the recyclable items to the driver once a week and he takes them. No extra effort needed. When taking laundry out, refuse all the extra metal hangers and plastic wraps.
Read this post for 10 ways to recycle in Saudi Arabia.
When you’re at the park, don’t litter. Call people out for littering. Honestly this really does help.
Pick up trash left by other people, be an example.
Show an example to your kids by teaching them how to recycle and pick up after themselves from a very early age. Insist that the kids school begin teaching recycling and respecting nature as part of the curriculum. There are hundreds of ways every single person reading this can help.
Are YOU doing something?
To be fair there are many environmental awareness campaigns in Saudi Arabia, more and more each year. So there definitely has been a positive change from what I’ve seen in the 10 years time I’ve been in Saudi Arabia. Things which have the most dire impact on the nature, such as the use of plastic bags and water bottles needs regulations and laws set to be effective.
Plastic bags in Saudi Arabia’s stores should either be
A) banned altogether and alternatives taken into use or
B) customers have to pay for their bags and this will greatly reduce the amount being used.
My main reason for this post was originally to share the location of the center where you can recycle in Riyadh that I found out about recently. As usual when speaking about matters close to my heart, I got carried away about how the environment is not being protected enough in Saudi. I do this because I genuinely care and I want things to change. It’s something I’m passionate about and can talk about on and on. Without these things being addressed and talked about, things will not change. This is my second home country and my children are half Saudi, I want them to be able to live in a clean safe environment in the future and for future generations to be able to enjoy Saudi Arabia’s nature the same way we can now.
Location of Recycle Center in Riyadh
I was so excited to find this recycling place in Riyadh where they will accept multiple things at one location. Instead of having to go around the town to multiple different locations to try to recycle waste and in the process spend several hours stuck in traffic, there is one place in the city center that we can now take it all to.
UPDATE 2018 November: After publishing this post the center got so much traffic they could not handle all the materials being brought to them and had to remove the collecting bins.
They no longer accept anything other than clothing and furniture for charity.
If you have information about a recycle center in Riyadh which takes different materials in one place please let me know in the comments!
They can also come to your house to fetch larger items such as furniture and old appliances. So this is fantastic news indeed! It’s not the same as we have in Finland but this is absolutely better than nothing and a great start!
Here is the location on google maps of the center for recycle in Riyadh:
It’s open daily from 9 am to 11pm. Fridays after Jumah prayer.
If you know of a similar place to recycle in Jeddah, Khobar, Abha, Dammam, Qassim and any city on KSA, please leave the info in the comments to help others to find these locations.
Please also leave in the comments social media handles for Environmental awareness campaigns, charities that accept donated clothing and any other related information that will benefit everyone.
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya
very interesting article. It is worth noting that the recycling location you mentioned is actually a charity collection spot mostly for clothing or anything that can be donated to those in need.
There is this company I found online for recycling electronics:
There is also this company that recycle paper, plastic and glass through it’s 8 branches around the kingdom:
It is worth noting that I haven’t dealt with any of these companies and I just knew about them from my internet search.
Hi thank you for the links!
it is for charity and recycling.
Let me know please if you try any of the ones you mentioned how they work.
I called tadweer, they only do electronics!
No answer from arab recycling!
I always take my bag and have an extra one in my purse.For me it is very strange that people from Europa are not doing what they do in there homecountry: take there own bag….
They recognize me in shops and ask for my bag….they know, I don’t want plastic bags….I am sure that if more people do this, it will change ‘Be the change you want to see in the world ‘- Ghandi-
To the lady that says take your own bag … yesthus works if you use the same supermarket and the baggers get to know your habits Often I have given my bags over for a large shop to be packed only to find the bagger has packed my reusable … no time before prayer to repack . I hear you ask why don’t you pack your own shame on you !!!! But if I don’t that little bag packer has no job at all
Very good article to promote recycling
May be we need recycle bins in compounds as some mosques have recycle bins so there must be a system for recycling ??
THANK YOU! Coming from canada it was SO hard throwing garbage out. I felt guilty! Now i have a solution. ?
And i agree about the packers packing every single thing in a small bag…i get weird looks too when i tell them to fill the bag!
Sometimes the companies who claims to do recycle ( except charities) are doing resale trade for the clothes on the expence of being a recycling company .. be aware plz
thanks for this! I’ve been looking and this is very useful!
Thank you so much for sharing this!
I’ve been hoarding a year’s worth of plastic bottles in hopes of finding a place to recycle them! I finally have them off my consciouns (and have more room in my house) ?
What a disappointment — I have been outsorting my recyclable rubbish for a week and was going to drive past the recycling point on the way home tonight. Now I see I am going to have to throw the bottles, paper and metal in the bin.
today saturday 31/3/2018, day to highlight. I went to recycling point, i could leave:
– big bags of bottles and plastic items.
– bag of glass
– bag of cans
– bag of tetra brick.
– bag of paper and carton.
they took everything. Easy and quick drop.
today Saturday 14th april, second successful delivery. QUICK and EASY.
is there more collecting points like this in Riyadh?
Hi Alejandro, Have you been able to continue sending your recyclables to the same location?
They stopped taking recyclables too many people began going there after I posted this and they removed the containers.
Hello, good evening.
I would to ask about the center for recycling the water bottles caps.
We want to use is as charity for the dialisys patient from the selling from these bottle caps.
May we know the center?
Hi i have a lot of bottle caps. I would like to know more about this charity.
can you post a pin for this recycling point please?
on the post i have added the google map location
I really really hope that there will be recycle bins in all schools,malls,colleges and public spaces.There is defidently more plastic use here than I am used to where I am from.I have seen the same issue in my home country in Africa but it’s no where near as prevalent due as general consumption isn’t as high.Ive been here few weeks now and have just been collecting plastic until I have enough to recycle and have figured out a spot.I hope there is a national campaign as part of their vision 2030.
great to know there has been this kind of recycling facilities around the kingdom. Awareness should start from within us, from educating people that plastics and the use of it destroy not just our health but also our environment.Appreciate this post a lot coz Ive seen how plastic has been like a norm to us here in the kingdom and majority of people doesnt know the effects of just throwing used plastics anywhere.
hi! im tryng to limit also my waste prints,and these is what I just needed and also do you happen to know any grocery store where they allow to use own reusable bag or jar for the bulk aisle? cant find any other page. im luck to find this one ?
I am a Chinese Businessman, looking for the Lead Battery recycling online, and find you article by accident, you are great.
One of the frustrations of shopping in supermarkets in Riyadh is that, even if you bring a supply of reusable bags to the store, you are in effect prevented from using them because a lot of supermarkets (as an anti-theft mechanism) do not allow you to bring any kind of bag with you on to the shop floor. You are therefore obliged to deposit all bags at the customer services desk before proceeding on to the shop floor. This then means, of course, that you don’t have any reusable bags to use to pack your shopping when you reach the check-out … and so the cycle of consuming plastic bags every time that you shop continues (and, as you correctly point out in your article, the number of plastic bags offered by the supermarkets on each visit is excessive).
If the supermarkets would get rid of the policy of requiring customers to check in all bags at the entrance, then we could bring our own reusable bags into the store and use them. A few supermarkets (for example, some but not all of the Tamimi’s in Riyadh) don’t require you to check in your bags at the entrance, and there it is possible to bring your own reusable bags into the store. However, such supermarkets are rare.
The lack of recycling facilities in and around Riyadh is, for those of us who care deeply about the environmental health of this country, at times very upsetting. I throw out more in a week in Riyadh than I do in a year in Europe. I desperately want to do something to reduce my environmental ‘footprint’ in this country, but have not so far found any way of doing it.
Finally i’ve found smb who’s interested in saving the environment -as much as possible- in Saudi Arabia, Thank you!
Today September 22, 2019, I finally found a place where they take used batteries (lamps, remote controls, radios, laptops) for recycling. It is still the same place you mentioned earlier in Al Wurud. Thank you for the great article and to you Laura as well They removed the collecting bins, but they take everything into a truck then they bring it into their recycling centers. I left today a full bag of used batteries we were accumulating for years as my wife did not want to throw them as usual garbage.
Al Wurud, 3218 Ibn Abi Al Fath Al Kharfi, 8200, Riyadh 12254
Hello! I am a student, and I am interested in how you do the process of recycling. I am currently working on a project for younger children to teach them the importance of recycling, and I would really like for you to help me with this project.
I am a student from alfaisal university, we will be soon having an event. In that event our topic is environmental health and wellbeing, i really need help also with the project.
so if you can get in contact and help……
I recently move to Riyadh and I’m already sick of the amount of plastics! I came across your blog which is amazingly interesting. So far I manage to set up a recycling system within my compound and I’m getting in touch with different recycling industries for picking up the compound recycling bin but in vain!
I’m happy to organise and participate in raising awareness of recycling in the kingdom. I’m just working on that at the moment and start gather some volunteers to go to shopping malls. As well as a volunteering group to pick up litter out and about.
I would be very grateful if you could please get in touch and share your ideas.
I’m actually in london for a week at the moment and I’m trying to see with different agencies here about how to setting up workshops to raise awareness in recycling in the kingdom.
Anyone would like to join me please feel free to send me an email on
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Watsapp- +44 7375482963
Saudi Contact no: +966 56 120 8125