Press releases

Findings indicate greater need for bridging the gap between education and human behavior towards plastic waste management


Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 12, 2017 – A recent survey commissioned by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), the voice of the petrochemical industry in the Arabian Gulf, has revealed that only 38% of GCC residents have an informed view of recyclable and degradable plastics, signaling the need to incorporate more information on this important subject in the education systems across the region.

48% of the 4,076 respondents supported the practice of recycling plastics into new products, rather than resorting to conventional waste disposal. The survey further revealed that the majority of respondents expect government authorities and plastic manufacturers to take the lead in reducing the environmental impact caused by unmindful littering. The respondents expect the GCC authorities to promote more recycling in the region as well as running more educational and awareness campaigns.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, commented: “In line with its efforts to play an active role in providing solutions that keep the environment clean and safe, GPCA has taken the initiative to commission for the second time a survey on the perception of plastics across the six GCC countries. This is the second time since 2009 that GPCA has commissioned a study of this kind to provide a clear and up to date picture of the public’s view on recycling and gauge their opinion on what they see as a solution going forward.”

“The study’s findings confirm the fact that more collaboration and leadership from government and industry is needed to close the education gap. There are deep-rooted misconceptions around plastics that we hope to address by working with government agencies and key stakeholders concerned to influence the adoption and implementation of the most effective regulations and standards.”

“GPCA strongly advocates recycling as part of its efforts to protect the environment, and support the sustainable development and growth of our industry and region,” added Dr. Mohammed Al Mulla, MD and CEO, Qatar Petrochemicals Company (QAPCO) and Chairman, Plastics Committee, GPCA.

Commenting on the topic, Craig Halgreen, VP Sustainability, Borouge and Head of Advocacy Plastics sub-Committee, GPCA, highlighted the role of recycling in meeting resource efficiency targets, and key national visions of GCC governments: “Building a sustainable and profitable plastics recycling industry that transforms our economic model from linear to a circular economy will improve resource efficiency and enhance sustainable waste management across the region.”

He explained: “Society continues to benefit from the convenience of plastic products due to their low carbon footprint across their life cycle. However, as the plastics perception survey highlights, there is a growing need to increase the awareness of and build more facilities for separating and recycling plastic waste. This is extremely important for the protection of our environment and wellbeing of society.”

Another important outcome from the survey included that harm to human health was perceived by most as a top issue caused by an increased littering or unmindful disposal of plastic material.

Building on the survey results, Daker El Rabaya, Managing Director of Waste Recovery and Processing at Bee’ah, the UAE’s leading integrated environmental and waste management company, said that recycling is the solution to diverting away from landfill. He also highlighted the fact that solutions such as bio degradable plastic are not addressing the real issue and encourage unmindful littering which ends up in landfill and water streams. In addition, they complicate the recycling process and bring more harm to nature.

Adding to this point, Dr. Al Sadoun stressed on the importance of having more campaigns such as Waste Free Environment that make a tangible and collective difference to human behaviors.

“This campaign has already achieved strong results through education and outreach on recycling and the harmful impact of littering. Going forward, GCC governments will need to incorporate more information into the education system and further enforce regulations that will help make an impact in shifting the human behavior.”

The GPCA’s Waste Free Environment campaign is dedicated to raising awareness about recycling and the harmful impact of littering. The campaign has been successfully operational for more than five years in as many as 23 cities worldwide.