Waste management law in the making in Oman
June 22, 2016 | 10:16 PM
by Baba Umar/[email protected]

Muscat: Be’ah, Oman’s waste management body, is drafting legislation to manage waste, which will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment for final ratification, according to officials.

“Many companies who have specialists have submitted their tenders. We are evaluating these tenders and we should award the project soon. Hopefully, by the end of this year, we’ll have our first draft laws ready,” Shaikh Mohammed Sulaiman Al Harthy, Executive Vice President, Strategic Development at Be’ah, told Times of Oman.

“It will be given to the ministry so they can approve them,” he added.

Strong policies and laws to manage the Sultanate’s waste are required, Be’ah officials said, noting that adopting a two-pronged method would be the best way forward.

“In phase one, a consultant helped us identify and scan the market, identify existing laws, determine what requirements are called for and what gaps need

to be filled. That’s done,” Al Harthy said.

“The second stage was to move into drafting the laws. We are currently evaluating those tenders,” he added.

Asked what kind of legislation Be’ah is looking forward to, Al Harthy said, “We need legislation all across the industry. We have nothing in waste management. What we have regarding environmental laws in Oman needs to be improved.”

He added, “When it comes to waste, we need it to cover everything from the point of generation, how do we handle containers, ownership of that waste, banning that waste, preventing people from going in the container to remove waste, managing all kinds of hazardous waste, considerations on what is hazardous and what’s not, and determining the levels of all toxins within chemical waste or hazardous waste.”

Be’ah plans to divert for collection, treatment, recycling, or landfills 60 per cent of the nation’s waste by 2020.

“So all laws should help us to reach this target,” he said. “Regarding environmental policies, other government agencies, such as the supreme council of planning, should set up such policies.”

Dinosaurs of past?

Meanwhile, in an interview with Times of Oman, Salman Zafar of the environmental think-tank EcoMENA said the success of any recycling programme depends upon setting realistic targets, creating effective laws and regulations, creating a strong waste management infrastructure, stakeholder participation, public awareness and institutional support.

“Unfortunately, Oman has been lacking in almost all of these areas, and that is why recycling percentages in Oman are still very low,” he said.

Zafar said waste management in Oman remains in a transitional phase, and the absence of a strategic master plan and lack of waste collection and disposal facilities has compounded waste management problems.

“Oman’s waste management policy is heavily focused on setting up sanitary landfills across the country, rather than on implementing source-segregation, setting up recycling centres and increasing public participation,” Zafar added.

Muscat-based environmental researcher Jamila Hakam noted that landfills are the dinosaurs of the past, “and should have no place in a healthy, green and clean Oman of the future.”

Hakam, who recently surveyed local residents’ practices of disposing of waste said, “There are so many ways now to manage waste and reduce the need for landfills, and I hope that Omanis will get behind any worthy initiatives to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle.”

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