The Middle Eastern (ME) region contributes to the highest per capita solid waste generation, globally, with the gross value exceeding 150 million tons per year . Apart from the large proportion of waste generation, other problems encountered by this region include lack of efficiency in the final disposal of waste, inadequacy in the waste segregation and recycling facilities, as well as insufficient public awareness (Ahmed, n.d.).
Zero Waste lifestyle is a comparatively new concept introduced in the Middle Eastern countries, in the field of sustainability. It is based on the idea of reducing, revamping or eliminating a product which cannot be reused, recycled, repaired or refurbished. This directly lessens the amount of waste generated, as well as the greenhouse gases. The concept of Zero Waste secures the loop of material flow facilitating the achievement of a sustainable society. Thus, this is not limited to recycling alone, it extends to reforming production systems such that there is minimal amount of waste generated. For instance, modifications to the lifecycle of a resource to facilitate its reuse, is incited (Ahmed, n.d.).
It involves effective tackling of the source of waste generated rather than the management of waste, by introducing the 3-R approach in everyday life. Thus, a circular loop is established with the notion of ‘cradle to cradle’ rather than the linear ‘cradle to grave’ notion (Sustainable Jungle, 2019). A hierarchy is set in place with ‘Reduce’ at the first tier, Reuse and Recycle following that. Reducing the amount one utilizes subsequently lowers what requires to be disposed.
Such lifestyle choices have an impact on various environmental aspects beginning with prevention of resource extraction to cutting down the proportion of waste disposed at the landfills concurrently aiding the reduction in pollution associated with production, transportation and disposal. Apart from these benefits, Zero Waste lifestyle is often considered to be economical (O'Connor, 2018). Thus, this concept reaps benefits for all parties, and its popularity is elevating due to rising concerns about the waste generated in the Middle Eastern Region.
Zero waste is considered to be one of the extensively successful solutions to climate changes. Several companies in the Middle Eastern region have engaged in initiatives promoting this vision. Unilever Factory under the ‘Sustainable Living Plan’, initially generating approximately 450 tons of waste per annum, currently produces zero waste. Although, at present, recycling is limited to paper, cartons, metals and cans. Improving the awareness of such concepts amongst the public, is the responsibility of all stakeholders (Ahmed, n.d.). The planet requires such sustainable initiatives to nurture the needs of the upcoming generations. The consumers can contribute to this by adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle by implementing small changes such as using reusable shopping bags, cutlery, etc., can bring about a significant difference.
Ahmed, R., n.d. Waste & Recycling Middle East and Africa. [Online]
Available at: https://www.waste-recyclingme.ae/moving-towards-zero-waste-in-the-middle-east/
[Accessed 16 December 2019].
O'Connor, M., 2018. Center for Ecotechnology. [Online]
Available at: https://www.centerforecotechnology.org/zero-waste-lifestyle/
[Accessed 16 December 2019].
Sustainable Jungle, 2019. Sustainable Jungle. [Online]
Available at: https://www.sustainablejungle.com/sustainable-living/zero-waste-future/
[Accessed 17 December 2019].