By Majd Othman 

KUWAIT: Plastic waste is a global issue that poses significant environmental challenges, and it costs billions of dollars worldwide to develop solutions for reducing and recycling plastic waste. The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) estimates that the GCC generates around 10 million tons of plastic waste annually, yet the potential for plastics recycling in the Arabian Gulf region remains largely untapped.

This ongoing issue has dire consequences, with countless wildlife, both on land and in the sea, succumbing to the ingestion of non-biodegradable plastics that take centuries to decompose. Regrettably, some individuals around the world fail to grasp the urgency of this issue in maintaining the shared habitat of various creatures.

Kuwait Times spoke to people in Kuwait to gather their suggestions for reducing plastic waste in the country and encouraging proactive participation in addressing this problem. The respondents provided valuable suggestions for tackling this issue collectively, from businesses to educational institutions, while also promoting greater awareness and responsibility among the population.

Waleed Saab, an active environmental activist, emphasized the importance of collective action in confronting this issue, despite Kuwait’s status as a developed country that is committed to international efforts to combat plastic waste. He called for increased social responsibility from local companies in Kuwait and cited cafes as an example of businesses that can make a significant impact. Saab proposed that cafes incentivize customers to use reusable cups by offering discounts. This approach not only reduces plastic waste but also raises awareness among various segments of the population.

Fajer Othman, a parent, recognized the role of schools in educating children about the plastic waste issue, but also advocated for taking children to places like the Scientific Center to actively participate. She mentioned the center’s initiative of collecting empty plastic bottles in a large basket, highlighting the importance of hands-on involvement. Othman suggested that schools and educational institutions intensify their informative and awareness campaigns on plastic waste and organize field trips to contaminated areas to enhance students’ understanding of the issue.

Several well-known food and beverage establishments in Kuwait have taken steps to address the problem. Some have replaced plastic straws with eco-friendly alternatives, while others have launched campaigns encouraging customers to use their own cups instead of disposable ones. Unfortunately, the latter initiative did not gain widespread attention. Teenager Ahlam Abdullah expressed her personal commitment to environmental preservation, instilled by her parents’ guidance. She urged companies to adopt new strategies promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials in their industries.