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Reclusters

Achieving Sustainability by Design

By Dana Alami

Why don’t you get into jewelry design instead of the waste industry?” one of the advisers asked, adding, “It’s more suitable for a young lady.” I nodded in agreement – only to surprise him with another visit the following week, a detailed project proposal in my hands. That was when he knew that I was stepping forward with a good idea, persistence, and determination. And I understood that my challenge was not solely how to establish a medical waste management company, I also had a crucial role to play in advocating for women’s contribution to and participation in solid waste management in Palestine. As this is the first woman-led initiative in this field, I embarked on a professional journey that explores the relationship between gender and sustainable waste management. It also aims to empower women in the sector.
The Waste Disposal Crisis, Worsened by COVID-19
My interest was sparked after COVID-19 and the increased awareness of potential epidemics. Witnessing the move away from landfills to waste management, prevention, and recovery, and sharing the fervor around safe circular-economy opportunities, I began to find the sector attractive. It offered me an opportunity to develop my career. Thus, I created Reclusters as a startup company that initially aimed to help address the immediate impacts of the pandemic and its long-term consequences. It also considers the ongoing solid waste disposal crisis that affects us locally and globally.
The World Is Throwing away 3 Million Face Masks Every Minute
The coronavirus pandemic has only amplified the importance of proper medical waste handling, as the amount of protective equipment, including single-use masks, generated by healthcare facilities has increased, causing new challenges in plastic-related waste pollution through waste that could be infected with pathogens!

The Problem?
Even today, most items are discarded into landfills or incinerated, producing climate-warming carbon emissions. This is the biggest challenge regarding single-use plastic that we currently face in the medical industry.
Solid waste management, including healthcare waste, is confronted by several challenges in Palestine. This results in a growing need for innovative solutions in waste segregation and treatment. We must take precautionary public health measures to fight viruses and prevent further pollution or epidemics.
Plastic Is Not the Problem, It’s the Infrastructure
The environmental crisis is in many ways a design crisis because it depends on “how things are made, and how landscapes are used,” as Sim Van Der Ryn stated in 1996.
Reclusters was founded as a sustainable clean-tech startup to benefit the ecosystem at the intersection of healthcare and the environment.
Plastic in landfills can take thousands of years to decompose, and the financial impact is huge. Ambitiously, there should be zero waste going to landfills in the not-too-distant future, steering the Palestinian territories in the direction of “environmental capital.”

  • Dana Alami MA/MSc in Global Innovation Design, Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. Founder and CEO of Reclusters: A Medical Waste Management Company.

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