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‘Shared responsibility vital in preserving environment’ Dr Noura presents strategy for waste disposal

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 22: Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anas Al-Saleh, stressing the preservation of the environment to be a national responsibility, highlighted the importance of shared accountability and partnership between the State and the private sector, in his address at the Kuwait Environment Conference held at the Regency Hotel. He noted that while the conference sought to alert parties on the state of pollution and degree of environmental abuse, it presented an opportunity to discuss new technologies and ideas and become a nucleus and a building block for future environmental projects that encompass a collective partnership and unified vision aimed at the interests of Kuwait. Minister Al Saleh relayed hopes that constructive recommendations and radical solutions coming forth in this conference would present an opportunity to bring about real governmental partnership with the private sector. He asserted the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s stand on preservation of the environment that forbids any encroachment. He pointed out that the most important thing needed at this stage was to keep pace with evolving legislation and current developments to criminalise any encroachment on the environment.

Strategy The development of a plan and comprehensive strategy to address the imbalances while fostering constructive cooperation between official bodies in the State and private sector is needed. The principle of “Our environment, our wealth and our collective responsibility”, stemming from patriotic fervour should be adhered to by everyone, he stated. He also acknowledged that there was a vital and important role to be played by schools and universities to educate the young and future generations of the importance of the environment and its conservation, informing them of the implications for public health to community members. Since development is measured in terms of safety of environment, preservation could factor in attracting economic interests or adversely affect the commercial reputation of the country, he warned. Minister Al Saleh also touched on the need for sophisticated information and monitoring systems. He shared that even though there is no doubt over observations and reports that indicate that Kuwait is not in an ideal situation but policies and appropriate measures to minimize any negative effects and mobilize efforts and resources needed to implement the programs and joint ventures and global partnerships were a priority. Khaled Al Mutawa, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Conference, stated, “We meet today and we are all on the cusp of a new year, we look forward to a bright future together with all the hope that Kuwait is taking a step forward after the lean years on the economic level.”

Future He shared that future environmental projects lack a long-term vision and that recycling, waste treatment, clean energy projects are pressing concerns. He reiterated the need for government agencies and the private sector to develop outreach strategies and a comprehensive vision to launch such major environmental projects. This, Al Mutawa said, was needed to preserve the wealth and health of future generations and create jobs and address the great imbalance in the economy while tackling sustainability and effective treatment for environmental problems. He highlighted some of the problems and obstacles that have compounded and hampered productivity in this regard that include the marginalization of the private sector, complexity of the terms of reference, a lack of flexibility in the categories of environmental activities, negligence in the conceptualization and time plan for clean energy, no recognition of major environment projects within the development plan, the use of primitive waste disposal methods, among others. He recommended a contribution to the establishment of a joint fund between the government and the private sector to clean energy projects and rehabilitation of infrastructure. He also urged the need for clean energy projects that reduce pollution and toxic carbon emissions.

Environmental affairs need to be given key priority within the triangle of development, which includes basic health, education and housing, he insisted. Dr. Noura Al Jandal of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, discussed scientific methods in the development of civil environmental awareness and presented the difficult equation of - no development without industry or industry without pollution. She presented a strategy for waste disposal that includes encouraging the private sector to invest their capital in the waste industry and the opening of markets for these products, reducing the import of some raw materials from abroad to offset waste collected by categorizing them as raw materials for other industries, the organization of programs and awareness campaigns, activation of environmental laws and impose strict regulations, provide training to deal with the different waste such as medical waste as well as the usage of contemporary design of the landfill which requires the site to be consistent with the current land use and future of the region, easily accessible in all seasons of the year, does not cause contamination of any water source nor hurt any important natural resources, that would be acceptable to the neighboring population and be an area sufficient to accommodate the waste produced from the area serviced, economically feasible, etc.

She also shared that Kuwait needed to develop its own factories to recycle waste after work studies and research to ensure the safety of the use of optimum quality, recycle organic materials, re-use waste and use animal waste as a source of biomass energy. She also touched upon solid, household, electronic, agricultural and hazardous wastes. Jinan Boushahri, former member of the Municipal Council and Chairperson of the Environment Committee, noted the revolution in information systems and discussed how electronics and appliances were to be disposed off on both a personal and national level. She stated that e-waste often comprises 5% of solid waste in most countries of the world, making up between 20 to 50 million tonnes annually and is expected to increase significantly in the next five years. She drew attention to the negative effects of electronic waste and its short term and long term impact on human which is great both in the short-term or long-term.

Solar Stephen J. Lubrano, Corporate Vice President at Agility, expounded on solar thermal technology that uses sunlight to generate heat and is beneficial for any process heat application from heating water for home use, solar air conditioning and even enhanced oil recovery. “We advocate hybrid systems. In the case of solar air conditioning system, with some source of fuel we can offer you heat relief for fuel reduction. Our best markets are those like Kuwait that are really trying to reduce their dependency on subsidised oil or places where it is very expensive to have oil. We are being looked at extensively by places like Geneva, Switzerland for heating and cooling, Saudi Arabia for cooling of warehouses and malls, we are also in Rio de Janeiro. The technology is pretty much all over the world”, he said. “We are already the lowest cost per thermal watt provider however we have done some analysis and look at traditional portable tech at 6 Eurocents/kWh. Currently we are at 3 Eurocents/kWh and we aim to go down to 2 Eurocents/kWh”, he informed. The panels don’t get hot because they are so efficient that no heat is generated in the process other than that which is supposed to be used as thermal processed heat. It works in the heat, requires no maintenance, functions well dusty conditions unlike solar panels which have to be cleaned with water. Potential projects include desalination of water and solar air conditioning systems, Lubrano informed.

Challenges But setting up solar thermal technology is not without its challenges in Kuwait. “What has happened is a lot of people have bought solar systems and they have been very disappointed with the performance, even with concentrator systems. Our biggest hurdle is getting people to understand that the technology is different, accepting it and stepping away from the bad experience that people have had with solar,” he shared. Frank Clary, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Agility, elaborated on the relationship between logistics and environmental impact during his presentation from the context of logistics as well as supply chain management and value chain. He also discussed what a good green logistics operation might look like and highlighted a few considerations that are important to its management. He pointed out, “Logistics touches all different types of operations, businesses, industries and commercial sectors and in each one of those there is environmental impact. So there is a substantial role to be played in helping to enable better environmental behaviour from their supply chain partners and helping to improve their own environmental impact as well” Green logistics is where you incorporate environmental issues into yoru business planning done for various reasons like the correlation between costs and environmental impact, he informed. “If you are having a lot of environmental impact, there is a good chance that your operational costs are too high or your efficiencies are too low.” He also added that a lot of customers want products that they are consuming to be clean, without any environmental impact because they want to preserve the quality of the earth.

By: Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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