Dr Ab­dul­wa­hab Al-sadoun of Gulf Petro­chem­i­cals and Chem­i­cals As­so­ci­a­tion on en­abling cir­cu­lar econ­omy in the Ara­bian Gulf

En­hanc­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of plas­tic prod­ucts and ap­pli­ca­tions, through­out their life-cy­cle and fur­ther in­te­grat­ing the GCC plas­tic value chain to cre­ate and eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain a mar­ket for re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als would be an­other key step for­ward in fulf

Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East - - CONTENTS - Dr Ab­dul­wa­hab Al-sadoun

If you fol­low the lat­est trends cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for the chem­i­cal in­dus­try, many of you would have heard about the ‘cir­cu­lar econ­omy’ – an in­no­va­tive new con­cept that has emerged as an al­ter­na­tive to a lin­ear eco­nomic model.

Un­like the ex­ist­ing take-make-usedis­pose ap­proach, the cir­cu­lar econ­omy is de­signed to max­imise the value and util­ity of ma­te­ri­als over their life­cy­cle and keep them in­side the value chain for as long as pos­si­ble, thus min­imis­ing en­ergy and re­source con­sump­tion.

In essence, what the cir­cu­lar econ­omy does is cre­ate a closed loop for ma­te­ri­als and prod­ucts as they go through the pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion cy­cle, which pre­vents the cre­ation of waste and re­tains their value.

Align­ing with the GCC na­tional vi­sions

While the cir­cu­lar econ­omy con­cept is still at a nascent stage, in­clud­ing in many de­vel­oped economies from which it orig­i­nated, sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist to adopt a more cir­cu­lar ap­proach in the Ara­bian Gulf re­gion. A move to a more cir­cu­lar ap­proach can re­tain and in­crease value cre­ation within the econ­omy. It can also re­duce our de­pen­dence on scarce nat­u­ral re­sources and achieve align­ment with the GCC na­tional vi­sions of sus­tain­able long-term in­vest­ments (eco­nomic).

It can fur­ther play a key role in job cre­ation, while im­prov­ing the stan­dard and qual­ity of life (so­cial), de­crease waste gen­er­a­tion, cut green­house gas emis­sions and pre­vent waste leak­age into marine and desert en­vi­ron­ments (en­vi­ron­men­tal).

If we take plas­tics for ex­am­ple, GCC’S per capita con­sump­tion has grown rapidly at 4% per an­num in the last decade, reach­ing 94kg per per­son in 2016.

Yet, the re­cy­cling rate in the GCC, in­clud­ing that of plas­tics is as low as 10% vs. 34% in the US and 45% in the UK. Thanks to its flex­i­bil­ity, as a ma­te­rial, plas­tic can play a key role in en­abling the cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

With cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, as much as 50% of post-use plas­tics can be reused and re­cov­ered for their en­ergy through chem­i­cal re­cy­cling, with ad­di­tional 40% be­ing brought back into the cy­cle through me­chan­i­cal re­cy­cling.

Re­cy­cling and waste treat­ment tar­gets also play a key part in the GCC na­tional vi­sions, with the UAE aim­ing for 75% treat­ment of mu­nic­i­pal solid waste by 2021, and Saudi Ara­bia and Oman tar­get­ing 85% and 80% re­cy­cling rate, re­spec­tively, by 2030.

Re­cy­cling and waste man­age­ment

Waste gen­er­a­tion is an­other im­por­tant fac­tor as far as the cir­cu­lar econ­omy is con­cerned. Ac­cord­ing to data from 2015, the UAE had the high­est per capita waste gen­er­a­tion of 2.1kg per per­son a day, fol­lowed by Saudi Ara­bia and Bahrain at 1.7kg per per­son a

day, Kuwait (1.5kg), and Oman (1.2kg). This com­pares to a global aver­age of 1.2kg per per­son a day.

The es­tab­lish­ment of a ro­bust re­cy­cling and waste man­age­ment in­dus­try in the Ara­bian Gulf is not just an im­por­tant pre­req­ui­site for a shift to a cir­cu­lar econ­omy, but it could also yield sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for the re­gion, in­clud­ing added value to the lo­cal econ­omy, job cre­ation, and achiev­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity tar­gets listed in the var­i­ous na­tional vi­sions by re­gional govern­ments.

Re­cy­cling and waste treat­ment tar­gets also play a key part in the GCC na­tional vi­sions, with the UAE aim­ing for 75% treat­ment of mu­nic­i­pal solid waste by 2021, and Saudi Ara­bia and Oman tar­get­ing 85% and 80% re­cy­cling rate, re­spec­tively, by 2030.

Within the chem­i­cal in­dus­try in the Ara­bian Gulf re­gion, GPCA mem­ber com­pa­nies have adopted the cir­cu­lar econ­omy con­cept in their busi­ness strate­gies, driv­ing greater sus­tain­abil­ity and re­source op­ti­mi­sa­tion. One ex­am­ple is us­ing process streams as byprod­ucts and raw ma­te­ri­als, the recla­ma­tion and re­cy­cling of process wa­ter and cap­tur­ing CO2 for in­dus­trial uses.

Other ar­eas where com­pa­nies can ob­tain com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage through the cir­cu­lar econ­omy are cir­cu­lar pro­cure­ment, chem­i­cal man­age­ment, cir­cu­lar prod­ucts and end-prod­uct re­cy­cling, which can help grow the re­gional in­dus­try and save car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

Sus­tain­able in­dus­try growth

To re­main ahead of the game, the in­dus­try would also need to em­brace cir­cu­lar­ity for its prod­ucts by fo­cus­ing on de­sign in­no­va­tion to elim­i­nate waste and the 3Rs – re­duce, re­use

and re­cy­cle. We would also need to con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for the re­spon­si­ble con­sump­tion and im­proved so­ci­etal be­hav­iour to­wards han­dling waste.

The key en­ablers for an eco­nom­i­cally vi­able cir­cu­lar econ­omy will re­quire col­lab­o­ra­tion across dif­fer­ent value chains. This would need to be ac­com­pa­nied by ef­fi­cient waste man­age­ment in­fra­struc­ture and pro­cesses in ad­di­tion to favourable reg­u­la­tions and stan­dards for en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits and sus­tain­able in­dus­try growth.

In­no­va­tion in prod­uct de­sign for reusabil­ity and end-of-life re­cy­cla­bil­ity would also be needed. As part of the shift to a more cir­cu­lar busi­ness model, the in­dus­try would need to fo­cus on skills up­grade and real-time data re­port­ing. To make the cir­cu­lar econ­omy a re­al­ity, we would need to es­tab­lish a mul­ti­stake­holder ap­proach to bet­ter plas­tic waste re­duc­tion and man­age­ment through col­lab­o­ra­tion, in­no­va­tion, reg­u­la­tions and stan­dards.

To give more in­sight into this im­por­tant topic of global and re­gional sig­nif­i­cance, the 13th An­nual GPCA Fo­rum will ad­dress the cir­cu­lar econ­omy dur­ing a ded­i­cated sem­i­nar on day one – 27 Novem­ber 2018 – at the Mad­i­nat Jumeirah, Dubai. The sem­i­nar will in­tro­duce the au­di­ence to the con­cepts of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, the lo­ca­tions in which it is grow­ing in im­por­tance, how it in­ter­acts with sus­tain­abil­ity in cor­po­rate plan­ning, and how it af­fects the Mid­dle East­ern petro­chem­i­cal play­ers.

Global plas­tics in­dus­try and cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

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