The Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) is launching a regional initiative to promote a better understanding of the value of plastics, and encourage more responsible attitudes toward litter disposal.
Employees of the association’s member companies and the public will be rolling up their sleeves on Feb. 27 in Dubai at DP World’s Al-Hamriya Port, for “Clean Up the Gulf”, a new annual campaign which the GPCA hopes will soon become the largest environmental awareness initiative of its type in the Gulf.
“Plastics are part of everyday life and its role will only increase as more and more products we take for granted incorporate plastic materials,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of the GPCA. “But irresponsible littering behavior combined with limited infrastructure for recycling in the region and complacency about proper waste disposal are tarnishing the image of a product, which is both economically valuable and eminently sustainable.”
“The Clean Up The Gulf campaign will involve our industries and the local community in keeping our streets, beaches and deserts litter free, educating people in the process that plastics, as a by-product of oil and gas, is much too valuable to throw away,” Dr. Al-Sadoun added.
With support from Injaz UAE, a youth-focused community organization involving business, educators and volunteers, Clean Up The Gulf will assemble litter-collection teams at locations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Jubail, Riyadh, Rabigh and Kuwait.
Employees from SABIC, Borouge, PetroRabigh, EQUATE, Sahara, Tagleef and other GPCA member companies have already pledged their support. School students and members of the public are also being invited to join in on the campaign’s dedicated website www.cleanupgulf.com.
The GPCA estimates that less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled in the Gulf. Out of the 80 million tons of waste generated in the GCC each year, 33 percent constitutes the municipal solid waste. The percentage of plastic waste is noted to be 26 million tons per year, that is the result of high consumption of consumer products.
Meanwhile, the credentials of plastic as a sustainable product are widely misunderstood. Plastic bags, for example, require less energy and water to make than paper bags, create less solid waste, and generate fewer carbon emissions.
“Plastic is derived from oil and gas, the lifeblood of the Gulf economy, so it is imperative that Gulf countries lead by example on the recycling and safe disposal of plastic goods,” Dr. Al-Sadoun noted.
“Local communities also need to do more to prevent such a valuable product blighting the natural environment. The Clean Up The Gulf campaign is the investment of the regional petrochemicals industries, in the responsible management of a vital industry for the world and Gulf economy.”