Tuesday, October 03, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 17, 1445 H
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Can we make circular economy great again?


One of the valuable childhood memories for many of us is remembering the way we grew up with families that saw values in everything around us.

Growing up in Salalah, I noticed my family and our neighbourhoods reuse what we have and what is around us and discover new ways it can be brought to life.

For example, worn clothes were reused, fallen tree leaves and branches were reused in furnishing and other home uses, used cans as toys and walkie-talkies. These few examples of many best practices passed from generation to generation are not only considered circular economy opportunities, they can now be also considered a part of purple economy that optimises the value of culture and heritage and what it can add to our lives.

However, the progress and advancement in technology which the humanity has been witnessing in the past and current centuries has led us on a path of consumerism that impacted the way we see the value of used items. Therefore, the question why today is the right time to start making circular economy great again?

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a specialised UN permanent intergovernmental body defines Circular Economy as 'markets that give incentives to reusing products, rather than scrapping them and then extracting new resources. In such an economy, all forms of waste, such as clothes, scrap metal and obsolete electronics, are returned to the economy or used more efficiently.'

Based on this definition, this post-pandemic recovery era provided us with a great incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle because our mobility and supply chains were impacted.

This is why, these times represent a golden opportunity to rediscover and innovate in the way of perceiving value. Our planet can no longer afford over-consumption and consumerism that strains our factory assembly lines and our ever-challenged budgets.

We are fortunate that there is an emerging ecosystem by the public, private and civil society sectors that is promising to turn waste into means towards a more sustainable prosperity. Public entities, such the Environment Authority, Ministry of Economy, be’ah along with circular economy and clean technology entrepreneurs and civil society associations started using collaborating to scale up breakthrough reducing, reusing and recycling solutions.

The most significant breakthroughs include Wakud, the first biofuel refinery in the Sultanate of Oman. It produces 600 thousand litres a month of UCO in accordance with the highest EU standards.

A second example is Recycling Services Company that have been expanded their waste recycling services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabic this year.

Third, Project Ghost which is a not-for-profit consortium that was led by Environment Society of Oman — ESO’s and Wakud.

This project, that supported the British Embassy and approved by the Ministry of Social Development, collected, sorted and repurposed ghost nets- thousands of tonnes of discarded fishing nets that plague our beautiful oceans every year. Last but not least, Injaz Oman who encourage future entrepreneurs — students companies’ participants to rediscover turning waste into sustainable products.

There are many ways in which we could support this nascent initiatives’ transition into a full-fledged circular economy that co-creates jobs, business opportunities and descent living standards for our communities.

Neighbourhoods can invest their time in sharing with each other stories about how we are enjoying this life today because of our ancestors’ wise and reasonable consumption.

Schools can link with community leaders to turn the ideas of youngsters into community initiatives that can be sponsored by the municipality. Impact investors can invest their time and money into scaling up circular economy solutions similar and even more innovative than existing reducing, reusing and recycling projects. More importantly, the public sector and government companies can make the most significant contribution to the sector by formulating and implementing innovative circular economy policies that promote competition and prevent monopiles.

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