It will enable a transition from a region historically dependant on a low cost of dumping waste to an approach that utilises waste as a resource, revealed UN Environment Programme for West Asia (Unep) regional director and representative Sami Dimassi.
“The outlook highlights the potential of the circular economy, in which waste serves as a resource and as a driver of regional economic growth through multi-stakeholder involvement, creating a range of funding and investment opportunities,” he said.
“While the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates the already growing waste management challenges in various countries in West Asia, the outlook will help the countries review their current waste management systems and develop resilient systems.
“The unprecedented health crisis is generating additional medical waste and potentially contaminated waste such as personal protective equipment which, if not managed properly, will pose a critical threat to human health and the environment.”
Mr Dimassi pointed out that poor management of waste contributed to biodiversity loss and the accelerated destruction of our ecosystems which provided food, water, energy and livelihoods.
In a recent UNEP Waste Management Outlook, the West Asia region is estimated to generate more than 60 million tonnes of solid municipal waste annually, and although it varied between countries it averages at nearly 1kg per person per day – higher than the global average.
He also highlighted that waste treatment level is currently at only 11 per cent, with sanitary landfills accounting for around two-thirds of treated waste with the overall deficiency in waste treatment capacity at more than 64m tonnes – including uncollected municipal solid waste.
“These wastes can be turned into resources and across the region there is an estimated potential of $10 billion or more in added value from new manufacturing industries that will potentially use recyclables as raw materials.
“Authorities often view waste management as a budget-driven service where cost savings can be made during economic downturns and increased funding provided during economic growth period.
“Efforts are needed to internalise the cost of waste management development within the supply chain and raise money through utility, household, commercial and industrial waste tariffs, permitting and licensing income.”
Mr Dimassi said the report reviews and assesses current waste and environmental management legal and legislative systems in Bahrain, and 11 other countries in the region, and unveils that additional regulatory support is necessary for the development of integrated waste management systems and the achievement of SDGs.
Considering various waste-related issues, such as climate change, it also proposes an integrated waste management technology framework to enable decision-makers to address current treatment issues and maximise value derived from the treatment of municipal solid waste.
He said the GCC countries can afford to establish high-value integrated waste management options while middle-income countries such as Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Iraq will require international assistance.
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