MUSCAT, SEPT 18 – Oman Environmental Services Holding Company SAOC (be’ah), the nodal government agency overseeing the management of solid waste services in the Sultanate, has roped in Omantel, the nation’s biggest telecom services provider, to support the deployment of a network of Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) across the capital city for the collection and recycling of waste PET bottles. State-run be’ah announced over the weekend that the agreement with Omantel, among other partners, will enable the roll-out of 25 reverse vending machines during the first phase of their deployment across Muscat Governorate. A similar number are planned for installation in the second phase of the programme.

Posting on Twitter, be’ah’s Head of Business Development Kumayl al Lawati said the installation of reverse vending machines will foster a culture of recycling of PET bottles among the general population and thereby contribute to the effective and sustainable management of recyclable plastic waste.

Hugely popular in a number of countries around the world, reverse vending machines allow consumers to deposit specific types of recyclable waste — be it plastic or glass bottles, aluminium cans, and so on — often against a reward typically dispensed in the form of vouchers that can be redeemed against a variety of goods or public travel services.

Once inserted into the machine, the plastic bottle is crushed or shredded, enabling hundreds of recyclable bottles to be collected, crushed and stored before it is transferred to processing centres. These machines play an important role in supporting the circularity of plastic waste and reducing their disposal in landfills. In countries with poor waste management systems, plastic waste ends up clogging drains and rivers, and accounts for much of the trash found floating out at sea.

Significantly, Omantel is the second major corporate to sign up to be’ah’s PET bottle collection and recycling initiative. In July, leading fuel marketing company, Oman Oil Marketing (Oomco) — part of OQ — announced a strategic partnership with be’ah to support the landmark programme. Under the arrangement, Oomco will install reverse vending machines to serve as collection /drop-off points for PET bottles at its network of filling stations in a phased manner.

According to be’ah, plastic waste makes up 21 per cent by weight and 50 per cent by volume of the engineered landfills established across the length and breadth of the country. It recently announced a plan to segregate plastic waste as part of a strategy to support the recycling and commercialisation of this waste stream.

“Nearly 50 per cent of plastics or 190,000 MT in our landfills is considered as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Diversion of PET bottles from landfills will eventually help reduce space consumption, which in turn, will increase the life of each landfill. be’ah is currently working on a PET diversion strategy and segregation plans,” the agency said in its 2019 Annual Report.

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