Muscat: Creating awareness and changing the psychological mindset of people is the key to waste management, experts say.
“We need a paradigm shift in our thinking so that we produce food products that produce less waste,and develop new plants that require fewer resources. We can start with young children. This requires raising awareness and research innovation,” said Dr. Nadiya Al Saady, Executive Director of the Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resource Centre.
“If I am changing my furniture, first thing I will do is to throw out my old furniture, but it can be used in another way or somebody else can use it. Using old furniture is not very acceptable here, but in other countries, it’s common.People go to dumps to look for furniture and so I think it’s the complete mindset that needs to change,” she added.
The Sultanate produced about 1.85 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2015, which is projected to reach 2.04m tonnes by 2040.The per capita waste generation in Oman is more than 1.2 kg per day, which is among one of the highest worldwide.
“We would like to bring that below 1 kg per person per day by 2040, and it requires changing the psychology of the people so that they generate less waste. We have a target of diverting 60 per cent of the waste from landfills by 2020,” said Sheikh Mohammed al Harthi, Executive Vice President of Be’ah.
“We have a community outreach team to raise awareness, and we have also joined hands with the Ministry of Education to look at the curriculum at different levels at schools and to see how we can improve so that the next generation is aware of waste and how to handle it.
“At this stage, we are not talking to people about segregating waste but only to put that waste inside the bins, to not damage the bins or burn them.So we are moving forward,” he added.
Dr. Mahad Baawain, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), said an interesting observation was that people are starting to understand the importance of their own waste, and also trying to extract some revenue out of it.
“For example, you don’t see metal cans or metal scrap.Nowadays, papers, cardboard and plastic etc. are things that are being collected. Thus, whatever might generate revenue is already being taken care of.”
According to Sheikh Al Harthi, “The immediate concern in managing waste is to control the damage. We need to close the traditional dumpsites, of which we have over 300 across the country, and then we can move towards recycling.”
Oman Be’ah is working with the SQU to create an Environmental Centre of Excellence.
“Five to 10 years down the road, Oman will be one of the leading countries in waste management. We need to foster and encourage research and development projects related to environmental concerns, and hopefully this will materialise very soon.”
The Circular economy
The experts will be part of the ‘The Circular Economy’ panel at ‘The Inside Stories’ organised by Ithraa on Wednesday September 28 at Bank Muscat’s Head Office. The event is open to the public, to register visit events.ithraa.om