Borouge, a leading provider of innovative, plastics solutions, is currently expanding its polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) manufacturing capacity in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, from 2 million tonnes per year (t/y) to 4.5 million t/y. These high value polymers are converted to plastic pipes for water, sanitation and gas transportation, wires and cables for reliable communication and energy transfer, automotive components and advanced packaging. Packaging applications such as plastic bottles, pouches and protective wrappers account for approximately 35% of all plastics and most of these have a short-life span and are discarded after their useful application.
With some one million plastic bags used every minute around the world and on average an individual using as many as 100 plastic bags a month, plastic bags also account for a large portion of plastics with a short-life span.
“Promoting the recycling of plastic waste is an essential part of our sustainability objectives and the values on which the industry is based,” said Obaid Saeed Al Dhaheri, Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs at Borouge. “We encourage the responsible dispose of plastic waste after having served its intended purpose and the adoption of environmentally-friendly concepts and practices is in line with our corporate responsibility towards society and environment.”
“As the major producer of plastics in the UAE, our aim is to ensure that used plastics are discarded of in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Craig Halgreen, Vice President for Corporate Sustainability at Borouge, at the Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference held on 4-5 March 2014. “Mechanical recycling is the most economical and environmental way of handling plastic waste and we encourage all actions that support the development of this industry”. The municipal solid waste recycling rates in the UAE are as low as 15%1, significantly lower than the developed nations in Western Europe.
Approximately 19% of the municipal solid waste generated in the UAE is plastics2 and Borouge promotes the proactive collection, segregation and recycling of waste as the optimum solution for handling plastic waste in a sustainable and responsible manner.
Abu Dhabi boasts a recycling plant in Al Ain that has the capacity to recycle 50 tonnes of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastics daily. Quality recycled plastics from this plant are used to manufacture a broad range of useful products such as rigid plastic crates, containers, pallets and bottles. This gives plastic a second life which may otherwise be lost.
Besides the significant loss of plastic waste to landfills, according to Borouge too much valuable waste for recycling is being lost due to poor human behaviour and littering. “Unfortunately plastic bags are the most common form of visible litter, negatively impacting the image of plastics”, said Halgreen. “At Borouge we promote the use of strong reusable bags that are either heavyweight polyethylene bags or non-woven polypropylene bags. These bags can be used several times and recycled at the end of their lifespan.” Reusable plastic bags are also a far better solution than cotton and other cellulose based bags due to the increased water and energy required to make the material for these other bags.
The first step to drive the change towards these reusable plastic bags is to enforce a charge for plastic bags, explained Halgreen. “Far too often small grocery stores give these single-use plastic bags away indiscriminately for minor purchases and these are very quickly disposed of often into the environment”. Inducing fines for littering also supports the elimination of plastic litter, however, it is vital that adequate collection facilities are provided by the municipalities.”
Many supermarkets throughout the UAE provide oxo-degradable plastic bags which disintegrate overtime. Consumers continue to consume these lightweight plastic bags believing that they disintegrate completely, while in fact, in addition to taking a long time to degrade, they never completely disappear but rather result in tiny plastic fragments which still cause harm to animals, marine life and the environment. Additives used to make these oxo-degradable plastic bags are not ideally suited for mechanical recycling and contaminate the recycling waste stream, and therefore, Borouge does not support the provision of these bags as the ideal solution. Oxo-degradable plastic bags are more likely to encourage littering versus durable reusable plastic bags.
Due to the rapid industrial growth, the revitalised construction boom and increasing population, the UAE records one of the highest rates of waste generation per capita in the world, and therefore, much is being done at a regulation and waste management level to address this problem. The per capita municipal waste generation rate in Abu Dhabi is approximately 1.5kg/day3. Currently a high number of illegal landfills are being created in Abu Dhabi to dispose of waste, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and harm to the natural environment.
The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) estimates that 33% out of the 80 million tonnes of waste generated in the GCC countries each year is plastic waste, and less than 10% of plastics is recycled in the Gulf region, thereby providing significant opportunities for improvements.
To increase public awareness about the benefits of recycling and the dangers of litter to land, air and marine life, especially amongst the youth and transient population, Borouge together with the GPCA, Centre of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi (Tadweer) and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, recently held a massive clean-up campaign on three beaches in the Abu Dhabi Emirate involving over 2,000 students and other volunteers. “Young people have very concerned ideas about how the environment should be treated and it’s important that we help them make the right decisions and encourage behaviour that supports the recycling of plastics,” said Halgreen.
For further information, please contact:
Vice President Global Communications (Designate) Borouge
Tel. +971 2 6070807
Adel Al Fahim
Regional Communications Manager Borouge
Tel. +971 2 6070805,
Wednesday, March 5- 2014 @ 13:56 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.