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Cutting plastic waste essential for Kuwait’s sustainable development goals: Environmentalist

By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: According to the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the amount of plastic waste in Kuwait is estimated at about 18 percent of total solid waste, or around 200,000 tons annually. Member of the Board of Directors of Kuwait Environment Protection Society Jenan Bahzad spoke to Kuwait Times about the importance of reducing the use of plastics and its dangers to the environment.

“Every year, according to scientific and field studies, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, which causes damage to marine life, fisheries and tourism, and incurs losses to the world of at least $8 billion due to the damage it causes to marine ecosystems,” Bahzad said, adding 80 percent of all trash floating in our oceans is plastic waste. “With the current rate of dumping of waste such as single-use plastic cans, plastic bags and cups in the oceans, by 2050 the oceans will carry more plastic than fish and 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested plastic waste,” she said.

KUWAIT: This photo provided by environmentalist Jenan Bahzad shows a camel near a stack of plastic bags at a desert location in Kuwait.

500 billion

Bahzad said global reports estimated the world uses around 500 billion plastic bags every year, but the danger lies in the way of disposing them, as they mostly end up in oceans. She spoke about steps that should be taken by people to reduce plastic waste. “Everyone can reduce their daily consumption of plastic by replacing plastic water bottles with those that can be reused or made with biodegradable materials.”

Bahzad stressed: “To achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals of Kuwait, we should contribute to protecting environmental, economic and social sustainability by advancing the application of laws and supporting local and international decisions. Changing environmental culture on the extent of plastic damage and societal awareness of alternatives is the solution. All solutions are available, and the consumer is the one who chooses – the choice is only limited by their culture and concern for the environment.”

“This in addition to setting a helpful law to prevent the use of products that are not environmentally friendly and finding alternatives subsidized by Kuwait for both consumers and investors, in order to facilitate the use of alternatives,” she added.

Bahzad said all types of waste are expected to grow to 3.40 billion tons by 2050, more than double the population growth over the same period. By 2050, total waste generation will triple, stressing all countries in the world must unite towards reducing the use of plastic and finding environmentally friendly alternatives, and this requires urgent action.


About the steps KEPS has taken towards the waste issue, she said the society presented in July 2021 a list of solutions to reduce waste in Kuwait, in cooperation with the Research Group for Natural Environmental Systems and Technology, Warah Environmental Consultancy and Vision Consulting Company, which includes reusing surplus foods by turning it into organic fertilizer and encouraging home farming, motivating and empowering young people to engage in self-employment in waste recycling projects, such as waste sorting centers, organic fertilizer industry projects, centers dedicated to collecting one type of waste, and identifying shops of symbolic value to sell recycled products,” Bahzad explained.

She said other steps include improving the waste recycling system and facilitating the collection of recyclable waste with household waste once a week; integrating awareness, environmental education and training on waste separation and reducing food waste; activating the laws related to littering violations in disposing garbage in places not designated for it; stopping the import and use of non-recyclable or single-use plastic, including plastic bags; awareness to reduce waste and surplus food, especially in restaurants and weddings.

Bahzad also recommended a national initiative in agreement with legislative bodies to develop an organizational structure to reduce waste and recycling; making industries dependent on waste, and this leads to solving major societal problems such as unemployment, thus transforming society from a consumer to a producer; urging schools and universities to adopt Islamic values ??that urge us to rationalize our consumption of food; and work on preparing a new generation based on the culture of achieving sustainable development.

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