Where There’s Dirt There’s Money

Where There’s Dirt There’s Money

Muscat - Our planet is warming, species are disappearing, sea-levels rising and resources becoming scarcer and in a world soon to have 5 billion middle-class consumers we need a different economic model. And according to Wednesday night’s Inside Stories panel led by Dr. Nadiya Al Saady, Executive Director, Oman Animal, Plant & Genetic Resources, we need a circular economy.

Organized by Ithraa, Oman’s inward investment and export development agency and supported by BP Oman, Wednesday’s star-studded Inside Stories panel held at Bank Muscat in Airport Heights discussed waste, return, reuse, remanufacture and recycle.

Ten years ago 2.9 billion urban residents generated about 0.64kg of municipal waste (MSW) per person per day – that’s 0.68 billion tonnes per year. Environmental experts estimate that by 2025, 4.3 billion urban residents will generate 1.42kg per person per day of MSW, the equivalent of 2.2 billion tonnes per year. On the domestic front, Oman’s population is projected to reach 4.9 million by 2025, with each person generating 1.2kg of waste per day.

“The negative repercussions of generating such large amounts of waste are simply staggering. Indeed, once you start to think about them, it’s very hard to think about anything else,” pointed out the OAPGRC Executive Director.

Joining Dr. Al Saady on the panel included: Sheikh Mohammed Al Harthi, Executive Vice President Strategic Development, bea’ah; Dr. Mahad Baawain, Associate Professor, Sultan Qaboos University; Dr. Steve Halls, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs; and Saleh Al Shukaili, Permitting Advisor, BP Oman.

“We have to realize that continued economic growth can’t come at the expense of Oman’s environment. To address this, we need to further integrate waste management systems while making reduced environmental impact a national priority,” stressed Dr. Al Saady.

Advocates like Dr. Al Saady insist there is more to the circular economy than just upmarket recycling.

Keeping materials circulating inside Oman’s economy would relieve pressure on natural resources and the environment. It could also create business opportunities.

“We should be looking to build a new generation of small businesses that manufacture clean products and services. This would create local and diverse jobs right across the sultanate, especially in areas like in eco-design, waste prevention, repair and recycling, as well as new services based on renting or sharing products,” commented Sajda Al Ghaithi, Ithraa’s Media Director

Most people would repair and re-use more if they only knew how. “What if we had an Oman guide on how and where to repair clothes, furniture and white goods? What if we had a financial incentive to return old products, so materials and parts could be re-used? These are exciting possibilities, explained Al Ghaithi.”

How we identify and capitalize on the significant commercial opportunities offered by the circular economy, as well as attracting young, eco-conscious Omani entrepreneurs into this sector were all discussed Wednesday evening. “Indeed, the circular economy could be the smartest answer to the problems society faces today,” concluded Dr. Al Saady.