A national recycling campaign, which would make it mandatory for all households, government organizations and public spaces to sort and separate their garbage, is in the pipeline, according to one government official.
As part of a “Clean Qatar” initiative, dedicated recycling bins would be distributed to families throughout the state, and installed in neighborhoods, public areas such as parks as well as in government buildings under new laws being considered by authorities.
This would be a significant expansion of the current national waste recycling program, which currently only exists in schools and universities and is part of a wider effort to meet the goals of the National Development Strategy 2011-16.
With less than two years to go, Qatar still has to meet the ambitious aim of ramping up its recycling rates from 8 percent to 25 percent and reducing overall the amount of waste going in to landfill from 91 percent of all household waste, to 64 percent by 2016.
In addition to encouraging more people to recycle, there is also a need to cut the total amount of waste produced, under a “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy.
According to Farraj Sheikh Al Fassari, a consultant for the minister of the Municipality and Urban Planning quoted in The Peninsula, the roll-out of the new program would be “soon,” although no specific date has been given.
It will follow an intensive public awareness campaign about the planned initiative.
Al Fassari said that the government would give assistance to private-sector companies that specialize in recycling household waste such as plastic and glass, to help make the new initiative a success.
While participation in the new scheme is described as “mandatory,” there are no details about potential penalties for not taking part.
Qatar has one of the world’s highest rates of waste production per capita, at around 1.6kg to 1.8kg each day. Daily, it produces around 7,000 tons of waste, with 30 percent of that (2,100 tons) generated by households.
There have been multiple attempts to introduce wider recycling schemes throughout Qatar, although so far they have met with limited success.
After Qatar hosted the UN Climate Change Conference COP18 in 2012, there was talk of setting up a national recycling program, with bins to be placed in prominent public locations such as malls. However, this didn’t happen.
There are several public recycling points through Doha – such as in Katara Cultural Village and outside some malls – and Ikea has a recycling drop-off station inside its store for plastics, paper, cardboard, light bulbs and batteries. Some housing compounds also run their own service.
But most of these rely on committed people driving some distance to dispose of their waste properly.
A recent electronic survey of household energy consumption patterns by the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) found that two-thirds (65 percent) of those who took part said they did not have access to convenient recycling facilities and half of all respondents said that more user-friendly facilities for common household waste such as paper and glass would encourage more people to recycle.
One of the recommendations from the QGBC was to introduce doorstep recycling or at least lots of neighborhood recycling stations as a way of encouraging more people to take part.
As Qatar’ population continues to grow on average 8 percent each year, it is under increasing pressure to find new ways of managing its waste.
The nation’s three landfills – in Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste, Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste, and Al-Krana for sewage waste – are all nearly full.
The domestic solid waste management center near Mesaieed, which was set up in 2011, is already operating at full capacity and is forced to dump 400 tons of domestic waste in landfill each day.
While encouraging more recycling in Qatar will help, the real issue is reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.
Simple initiatives such as encouraging people to use fewer plastic carrier bags in supermarkets, and take their own reusable bags are already commonplace in many countries and could be introduced here.
For example, in the UK and other European countries, many supermarkets now charge for their customers to use plastic bags, as a way of incentivizing them to bring their own.
Some products, such as olive oil and washing liquid, are also sold in “refill” sizes, which have less packaging and can repeatedly make use of the same container.
What do you think about the new recycling plans? Thoughts?