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Taiwan’s Miniwiz to build UAE upcycling plant

UAE upcyling plant Miniwiz Miniwiz
The Sky Wing Pavilion at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport was made by Miniwiz, which is to build an upcycling plant in the UAE, using recycled bottles
  • Miniwiz makes 1,200 materials
  • It also constructs buildings
  • Company built 9 NikeLab stores

A Taiwanese architect who co-founded the business Miniwiz is looking to turn the UAE’s rubbish into riches with the opening of an upcycling plant in Abu Dhabi.

Arthur Huang, who is also Miniwiz CEO, promotes the concept of a circular economy, upcycling consumer and industrial waste into usable products.

The circular economy involves breaking from the age-old model of “take, make, throw away” and redesigning products to be more durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable.

According to the Circularity Gap report in 2021, only 8.6 percent of the global economy is circular.

Miniwiz is headquartered in Taiwan with offices in Milan, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Huang said it will be opening its UAE upcycling plant– likely to be in Abu Dhabi – within the next 12 months.

Miniwiz takes single-use plastic, metal, glass, and other waste and transforms the rubbish into a variety of 1,200 materials. They can be used for construction, fixtures, furniture, medical certified materials and consumer products. 

Upcycled materials collected in the UAE will be used in “really high-end real estate”, said Huang, an architect and engineer who has been running the company for the last 20 years.

The construction industry creates an estimated one third of the world’s overall waste and at least 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Projects in the Miniwiz portfolio include the construction of nine NikeLab stores across the globe made out of recycled trainers and apparel and e-waste, such as motherboards.

The company also built the huge 2,000 square metre inflatable Sky-Wing at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport using recycled water bottles.

The first hospital ward built out of recycled materials, according to Miniwiz, was constructed during the Covid pandemic. The Modular Adaptable Convertible ward was designed by the company in partnership with the Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital in Taipei.

A NikeLab store in Tokyo that was built by Miniwiz

“We’re going to build a lot more buildings,” said Huang, adding that there is a “huge opportunity here in the UAE”.

The UAE plastic recycling market stood at 0.84 million tonnes in 2020. It is forecast to reach 1.44 million tonnes by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent through to the end of the decade, according to BusinessWire.

Huang told the Climate Future Week summit in Dubai this week that upcycling also involved using readily available natural resources including – in this part of the world – sand and sea.

Developed in South Africa, sandbag buildings are an affordable do-it-yourself approach to sustainable housing, with much lower embodied emissions than bricks and concrete.

Once the initial frame is built, sandbags are filled and stacked up. The building can then be finished and plastered as usual on the inside and outside.

Huang said that 90 percent of buildings would be built with sand in the future and revealed their new upcycling plant in the country would be built using sand from the UAE.

“Sand is a great thermo-material. You could build very high thermo walls to reduce air con in the factory,” he said.