Zain Group, the leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces the publication of its annual thought leadership report, this year entitled, “The Circular Economy: Embedding Sustainable Solutions in a bid to Save the Planet.”
The report captures how the circular economy fits into helping address some of the devastating impacts of climate change. This type of economic model is essentially based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems. Current linear economic models utilize raw and non-renewable materials to create products and once the product is consumed it becomes waste, which is neither efficient nor sustainable. The negative impact of inefficient economic models is real and growing.
Our planet is clearly at a point where it cannot withstand the waste generated from human activity. Today, people all over the world are producing an astounding 3.6 million tons of solid waste per day. It is estimated that by 2025, this amount will reach 6.1 million tons per day.
This latest report explores the definition of the circular economy and its various dynamics; comparing it to the linear economy model. The insight also highlights risks of the linear model, while providing views on the critical role technology plays in the circular economy and identifies initiatives undertaken by Zain.
Bader Al-Kharafi, Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO commented “Exploring the growth opportunities offered by the circular economy is a progressive step in discovering the numerous opportunities for innovation. Such an evolution could potentially provide societies with mechanisms to successfully address environmental challenges. At Zain, we are partnering with organizations and governmental entities in creating awareness and implementing digital technologies to minimize our negative impact on the environment and increase the sustainability of our activities.”
Al-Kharafi continued, “We hope that through our forward-looking thought leadership reports, the public will be inspired to act in a manner that benefits our planet and all those who inhabit it. We believe that by embracing the circular economy model, our region stands to benefit immensely as new jobs can be generated across sectors, while implementing sustainable solutions to help solve current issues. We encourage all our stakeholders to play a positive and transformational role with us in recalibrating the way in which we conduct our businesses, so that together we can achieve a progressive and sustainable future.”
Uncollected waste and waste directed to open landfills is extremely common across the region, though the current state of digitization offers compelling solutions to help address the negative impact of excess waste, with the emergence of nascent technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT).
Jennifer Suleiman, Zain Group’s Chief Sustainability Officer said, “The implementation of the circular economy is well suited for the MENA region, and it is therefore particularly relevant to be raising the model’s benefits at this point in time when the twin forces of climate change and the growing populations across the region are in full effect.”
Suleiman continued, “Our latest report focuses on the various possibilities brought about by the widespread adoption of the circular economy and the significant opportunities for growth that can and do materialize from the modification of production and consumption processes under the model. Transformation must occur, not just from an economic model perspective but from a mindset standpoint as well. Finite resources should not be exhausted and the only way to ensure that is to adopt new and progressive economic models that promote waste reduction and sustainable production.”
Given the current extreme weather conditions and the urgency for policymakers; businesses and governments to address climate change, Zain was compelled to focus this year’s report on the circular economy. The flexibility and adaptability of the model also helps address multiple Sustainable Development Goals (6,8,11,12,13,14,15) as articulated by the United Nations.
The circular economy can easily be embedded into the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector. For businesses, it encourages greater innovation with respect to business models as it pushes such companies to develop innovations in the area of waste management. Technology-driven organizations can educate consumers and provide them with options on how to reuse and recycle digital products. This step can open doors by educating customers on how to save money, as well as shedding light on the presence and activities of waste management companies.
With technological products, devices and services being used by so many people, most gadgets end up in landfills after use with just 22% of used electronics being recycled. Moreover, with the introduction of 5G, numerous devices that are not compatible with the technology will be discarded. Recent studies reveal that 48 million tons of e-waste are produced every year. According to The World Economic Forum, e-waste is currently considered the fastest-growing source of waste today.
On Zain’s part, as part of the company’s waste management program, Zain Kuwait installed filtered processed water coolers on all floors of its headquarter buildings, thus reducing the use of single-use plastic employees. Furthermore, the company provided each employee with reusable water tumblers. Plastic waste in general is a large issue in Kuwait as it has been estimated that 18% of solid waste in Kuwait is plastic which is around 200,000 tons.
Moreover, in Bahrain, the operator recognized the negative impact of selling products that turn into e-waste and in a bid to mitigate this, partnered with the Supreme Council for the Environment and Crown Industries to introduce sustainable, long-term solutions in this area. Furthermore, Zain Bahrain launched school campaigns, competitions and conducting awareness sessions in schools also collecting e-waste from schools over a period of six months and conducted social media campaigns on the impact of e-waste. Additionally, it conducted a call to action for the public to collect e-waste and place it in bins located on Zain’s premises and encouraged other corporations to participate in collecting e-waste.