Muscat: Oman's regional municipalities must work together to save the environment by establishing recycling centres across the country to collect and recycle over two tonnes of plastic containers dumped everyday into landfills, experts urged.
Official statistics show that consumers on a daily basis buy over 400,000 containers of water, juice, soft drinks and milk, in various sizes. They are all destined for the landfills in various parts of the country.
An environmentalist said that authorities must start working together to create a more organised system by which private recycling firms could access the waste products more easily.
Suaad Al Harthy, a spokeswoman of Environment Society of Oman (ESO), said, "We should work towards minimising our waste. We should look for ways to either re-use or recycle it. In order to promote recycling in Oman, it would be essential to establish appropriate recycling facilities and collection points along with awareness campaigns to encourage the public to recycle."
Other experts said collecting these wastes and recycling them would help generate private investment in waste and recycling plants such as anaerobic digesters which generate energy from green waste. "Landfills take up precious land and cause considerable pollution because plastic materials take many years to disintegrate. Besides, we can start a new industry in recycling that will create thousands of jobs in the long run," Khalifa Al Saifi, an environmentalist at the Ministry of Regional Municipality Ministry, said.
He added that throwing away used plastic and other waste is "as good as throwing away valuable materials" needed to spur the economy. He also urged the city councils to set aside a special budget to recycle other waste such as food, used furniture and electronic items.
"Tonnes of food and other household items are wasted everyday instead of being turned into biomass energy. This kind of energy is very efficient and friendly for environment. If we cannot use these waste materials here, we can export the same abroad after putting these through anaerobic digesting plants established in Oman," he added.
For this to work, the government could establish nationwide collection points for regional municipalities across the country to improve the material collected for recycling and reuse. The new recycling industry would then pay tax on the income it earned to municipalities. The money would help the government to monitor recycling, pay for staff to liaison and work with companies to maximise the value of rubbish.
But for the recycling to have a bigger impact, the Ministry of Education must introduce in its curriculum environment as a subject for students during basic education classes to create awareness.
"Awareness about recycling must start at grassroots level. We must educate our children so that they can save their environment and at the same make money from rubbish they throw away," Nadia Al Ghaith, a teacher at a government school in Seeb, told the Times of Oman.
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