It's Time for the Arab World To Start Recycling

The lack of environmental awareness in the Arab world is a growing problem, writes Salwa Malhas. Just a bit of government initiative and public awareness could go a long way in terms of reducing the region's carbon footprint, but it would bring economic returns too. 

al-monitor Garbage pickers collect recyclable materials at a garbage dump in Benghazi 03/07/2011. Photo by REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani.


water management, water, technology, sustainability, recycling, mineral waste, environment

mai 24, 2012

Even waste can generate income if it is put to good use. This is not a new conclusion, but a necessary measure that has been the topic of discussion. This issue was recently addressed at the "IFAT 2012" exhibition held in Munich. The event was organized to promote water and waste recycling technologies and to allow international experts to exchange ideas and practices for protecting the environment. Natural beauty can be attained by properly using and sorting waste materials generated from daily use. There is no limit to the creativity and ways of benefiting from wastes. However, one notices that there is no Arab country flag present at the exhibition. This is because there is a lack of clear vision in waste management, since there is no culture of waste treatment in the Arab region.   

The Netherlands, France, Italy, and the UK have all managed to mitigate environmental and economic burdens by adopting proper treatment guidelines for waste, wastewater, and recycling.  These countries have completely stopped using landfills, thanks to proper sorting, recycling, and manufacturing.

At a time when the world is moving in this direction, Arab countries remain ignorant of this field. The world is witnessing many achievements in the field of science, and inventions in the recycling industry. A number of countries are utilizing waste to generate economic gains with the least possible environmental damages. 

It is very common to see empty recycle bins in our airports and malls. This is because citizens are not committed to such an idea, or because they do not know about the rules of sorting. It is time for us to adopt the proper way of sorting waste, so that we can facilitate the recycling and manufacturing process. Today, we witness private and public companies being established in a number of Arab countries, and governments are allowing private companies to invest in many aspects of  infrastructure. In light of  these developments, now might be the time for water-waste technologies and recycling to be an investment priority. Our nations and societies are incurring high economic and environmental costs in this regard, especially because they lack infrastructure and waste-sorting, and because such a culture is absent in the Arab world.

Visitors to the IFAT exhibition will have noticed the evolution of waste sorting and recycling technologies. One will also have noticed how simple and easy waste- sorting really is, so long as people are informed about it and strict policies are devised to enforce it.

This is a pressing issue, especially due to climate change, the increasing global population, and their impact on the environment. Environmental sustainability is a challenge for regional and local governments, but it is also a platform that will offer them many opportunities in the next five years. Governments are underlining the importance of using cheap energy prices to promote the mineral waste trade in the region, which will in turn motivate investment growth. If that happens, then it will be a clear sign that development in this industry can be supported by economic diversity in this region.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pioneers in the region in the field of recycling mineral wastes: both countries recycle around 8 million tons of waste annually. The UAE purifies approximately 70 to 100 thousand tons of non-solid minerals per month and exports it abroad, which generates around $4.5 billion a year.  However, recycling household wastes continues to be an uncommon habit in regional countries. Recycling household wastes will only begin with complete awareness of its importance, necessity, and the benefits that it will bring in both the short term and the long term.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Salwa Malhas

Articles recommandés

Recent Podcasts

Featured Video