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Oman’s recycling opportunity

Every day, we see photos and videos of huge plastic debris sweeping wildlife and marine life. Why is it that plastic waste, or waste in general, is clogging up the ecosystem?

Society has become accustomed to convenience and a disposable culture over time. Inadequate policy frameworks and a lack of investment in vital waste management infrastructure exacerbate the problem.

To address this issue, various innovative waste management and behavioral change concepts are emerging from all walks of life. The concept of a Circular Economy is commonly considered as a viable option.

The circular economy is an economic system that encourages waste reduction while keeping resource values as high as feasible for as long as possible. It is inspired by nature, where one species' waste becomes a resource for another, assuring an endless cycle of renewal. Societies and economies can improve resilience and minimize their reliance on restricted resources by adopting this strategy.

The GCC countries, which are in one of the world's wealthiest regions, are also among the greatest trash generators per capita. The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association recently commissioned two studies, one of which is for Oman, to better understand the gaps in plastics waste management. The investigations are intended to offer insight on the current condition of trash management in Oman, as well as difficulties and potential in plastic waste management.

“According to the study, just 4% of the 420,000 MT [1] of post-consumer plastic trash created in Oman is now recycled, while the remaining 85% is thrown in landfills”.

The country should aim for far higher recycling rates than the 15%. This will also assist it in meeting its aims for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as its long-term national vision- Oman Vision 2040- . It will also help brand owners accomplish their stated goals of using more recycled material in their packaging, and it will be a major market driver.

To make this change possible, the country must concentrate on a few crucial issues:

  1. Reusability: This has the greatest potential for reducing waste, but it is also the most difficult to achieve. Longer product lives will necessitate societal incentives to move away from a throw-away culture, as well as major expenditures in product design and business model innovation.
  2. Resource efficiency: Regulators can offer incentives to businesses that show significant reductions in waste and unnecessary packaging. Companies who engage in increasing resource efficiency should be rewarded for their efforts.
  3. Source segregation: Across the globe, this has been the most important pillar in converting waste to value. However, it remains a major worry in the GCC, and reaching its full potential would necessitate government intervention. Increased source segregation can considerably increase not only the recovery but also the quality of important commodities.

 

  1. Improve waste management: Integrated and harmonized waste management systems across the country can help to increase recycling rates.

 

  1. Streamlining material recovery: Investing in Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) can increase the amount of recyclable material available. This will have to be combined with higher landfill tipping costs and stiff penalties for illegal disposal.

 

  1. Favorable standards: Regulators will need to work with industry to set recycle standards, as well as manage the recycle market to assure availability, price checks, and quality control. It is also recommended that standards requiring the use of additives, such as the present oxo-degradable norms, be repealed because they obstruct the recycling process.

 

  1. Trade regulation: Oman can set export limitations to capture value within the economy and avoid leakage of high-quality recycled material. The focus should be on increasing the value recovery from domestic garbage, which necessitates waste import limits.

 

  1. Life cycle analyses: It is recommended that regulators and industry work together to conduct life cycle impact assessments (LCIAs) on various material types and applications to determine the most environmentally friendly material for each application, avoiding substitutions that may appear to be better but have a negative impact on the environment.