RIYADH — The average per capita waste generation in Saudi Arabia is 1.7 kilograms per day according to available statistics, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) has said.

Saleh bin Dakhil, the official spokesman of MEWA, revealed this during the ministry's participation in the World Environment Day 2023.

Dakhil pointed out that about 7 million tons of plastic waste is being produced in the Kingdom annually.

"The real challenge lies in how to change behaviors that cause damage to the environment and replace them with environmentally friendly ones," he said.

The spokesperson said celebrating World Environment Day annually on the 5th of June comes within the ministry's activities and programs with the aim of enhancing environmental awareness and encouraging community participation in such activities. The ministry also holds awareness forums and seminars on environmental issues.

Dakhil affirmed Saudi Arabia's pioneering role in addressing environmental issues locally and globally, and its efforts in reducing pollution through establishing several centers and laws.

Among the Kingdom's efforts to reduce pollution are the establishment of the National Center for Waste Management and the national center for environmental compliance control, the approval of the Environment Law and its executive regulations and the development of a comprehensive strategic plan for waste management.

These also include enhancing the means of environmental monitoring of the terrestrial, marine and coastal environments, monitoring development activities and pollution sources, and setting the necessary plans to reduce pollution.

Saudi Arabia has also launched an initiative for the sustainable management and preservation of coastal and marine environments with the aim of contributing to the protection and sustainability of the marine environment through rehabilitation, which was carried out by removing solid waste such as plastic and plastic fishing nets.

The spokesperson said the Kingdom participates in global alliances and cooperates with international organizations to ensure the safe treatment of plastic waste and limit its leakage, in addition to unifying regional positions in international negotiations.

Among others, Saudi Arabia participated in the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, which aims to combat plastic waste in oceans and beaches, Dakhil said.

He said the ministry organized voluntary campaigns in different regions of the Kingdom to clean the beaches and parks of waste. The Kingdom has also held awareness campaigns and events urging reduced dependence on single-use materials, including plastic.

Additionally, the ministry held several awareness activities on the occasion of the celebration of World Environment Day 2023 in cooperation with the National Center for Waste Management (MWAN) in all regions of the country. This comes with the aim of raising the cooperation and partnership between the two parties to increase environmental awareness among all segments of society, in accordance with the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

The world consumes about 475 tons of plastics annually, of which, 80% are being transferred into waste. Only 10% of the plastic waste, which constitutes 85% of the marine waste, is being recycled. About 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans annually, and about 800 species of organisms get negatively affected by plastic pollution.

This year's celebrations coincide with the 50th anniversary of the World Environment Day. Côte d'Ivoire was chosen, in partnership with the Netherlands, to host the 2023 celebrations.

Over the past 5 decades, World Environment Day has become one of the largest global platforms for environmental awareness, as tens of millions of people along with governments, the private sector and community organizations participate in celebrating this day annually.

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