MENA region 'well suited' to circular economy

24 March 2020

The MENA region is “well suited” to implementation of the circular economy, according to telecoms firm Zain Group.

In a report Zain said circular economy principles around reusing and recycling products were particularly relevant as the world grapples with climate change and growing populations.

Zain said it had introduced a number of projects to increase the collection and recycling of electronic waste, of which 48m tons are produced each year globally.

“The MENA region lacks an adequate ecosystem that can dismantle and salvage used devices as much of this material is shipped outside the region. Hence, it is up to progressive companies to take a stance and pave a path for their consumers to recycle their used devices,” said the report.

Zain said it partnered with Bahrain’s Supreme Council for the Environment and Crown Industries to collect e-waste from over a period of six months, and had a competition for the school that collected the most.

The company has called on the public to collect e-waste and place it in bins located on Zain’s premises. It is encouraging other corporations to participate in collecting waste.

The report said that uncollected waste and waste directed to open landfills was a common problem in the MENA region and that digital technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things could ameliorate this.   

The company said that in Kuwait it has been estimated that 18% of solid waste in Kuwait is plastic – around 200,000 tons a year.

Jennifer Suleiman, Zain Group’s chief sustainability officer, said: “The implementation of the circular economy is well suited for the MENA region, and it is therefore particularly relevant to be raising the model’s benefits at this point in time when the twin forces of climate change and the growing populations across the region are in full effect.”  

Meanwhile the UAE is offering entrepreneurs prizes worth Dh3.4m if they can help reduce the amount of brine produced at desalination plants.

The UAE government’s Rethink Brine’s competition is designed to encourage more researchers and scientists to develop new ways to tackle the problem.

Brine is a major by-product of desalination, which supplies all drinking water across the UAE.

“While the desalination of seawater has enabled communities to flourish in the arid conditions of the desert, the by-product of desalination, brine, affects the health of marine ecosystems,” said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, secretary general of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

“Brine discharge increases the salinity of the surrounding seawater, causing a reduction in oxygen levels that [affects] marine life.”

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