By Fatima Muhammad
JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia consumes up to 3 million tons of plastics annually which is part of an annual waste that adds up to 12 million tons. According to Abdullah Badawood, head of the department of industrial sectors at the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, recycling plastics is one of the most challenging recycling processes. The most challenging stage is collecting the plastics and calcifying them. He noted that lately, recycling started to develop in an unorganized manner and some overstaying workers started to be active in it.
The ministry now aims at developing the industrial sector through finding new investment opportunities forming the needed rule and legislations to recycle plastic, aluminum, iron copper, wood and papers. This will in turn provide more job opportunities and will contribute to the GDP, said Badawood, who was speaking at an workshop here Sunday at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
There are number of government bodies that are contributing to this new project, including the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Health, Saudi Food and Drug Authority, National Water Company and SASA.
According to Badawood, if they manage to increase plastics recycling by 20%, that will result in adding SR250 million to the GDP, there will be some 300 investment opportunities for small and medium businesses, exports will be increased, and the environment will be protected.
There are some 19 uses of plastics in everyday life that range between water and milk bottles to plastic bags, cables, eyeglasses frames, toys, sponges and cups among others. There are five factors that contribute to the increase of waste that range from population, economic development, degree of industrialization, to public habits and local climate.
Moreover, Badawood said they made a six-month tour visit at the 30 different factories in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province. He said they have found difficulty specifying where the plastic waste is collected from. He added that some factories are polluted and have no laboratories, their machineries are old, overstaying and unqualified workers do the job, some factories make the dorms of the workers inside the factory, the location is small and there is a lack of safety measurements. However, a few factories were good in terms of equipment, manufacturing, safety and environment.
Among the main recommendations that Badawood noted is the need for a national plan for recycling plastics. Also there is a need to oblige factories producing plastics to use at least 20% of recycled plastics. Also there is a need to ban giving permission to any factory operating outside the industrial locations. He emphasized that there is need for an environment protection certificate before a factory can obtain a final operation license. In addition, he called on obliging factories to implement Saudization and prevent employment of overstayers.