Onur Dursun (Frost & Sullivan) on Saudi's plastic recycling opportunity

13 December 2023 Consultancy-me.com 2 min. read

While plastics are essential to a large number of facets in life, they at the same time leave an undeniable impact on the environment. Onur Dursun from Frost & Sullivan explores the critical issues surrounding global plastic waste and sheds light on Saudi Arabia's remarkable commitment to sustainable solutions.

Since the invention of plastics in the early 1900’s, plastics have transformed industries and lifestyles. Used in almost every sector, including to produce packaging, in building and construction, in textiles, consumer products, transportation, industrial machinery, and household electronics, plastics today represent a massive $600+ billion global industry.

“Yet the environmental impact of plastics are stark”, says Onur Dursun, Senior Consultant Growth Advisory in the Chemicals & Materials practice of Frost & Sullivan. “The world faces a plastic waste crisis, demanding a shift towards sustainability and circularity in the plastics industry.”

Worldwide, a growing number of initiatives are being deployed to curb plastic waste, with most of those focused on enhancing the circularity of the production chain, reducing waste, and removing plastic pollution from places such as oceans and streets.

According to Dursun, Saudi Arabia is committed to taking decisive action in the space. “With a pledge to invest 100 billion Saudi Riyals by 2035, the goal is to divert more than 90% of the total waste generated away from landfills. This ambitious initiative is spearheaded by the National Center for Waste Management and the Saudi Investment Recycling Company [a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund].”

Meanwhile, the private sector is also heading towards a greener future-state. “In the pursuit of plastic circularity, SABIC and SIRC are joining forces to establish a chemical recycling plant. SABIC, in reaffirming its commitment, plans to process 1 million tons of plastics through its Trucircle solutions initiative, marking a significant step towards a circular carbon economy.”

“Large fast moving consumer goods companies are also stepping up,” adds Dursun. “Over 80 consumer packaged goods companies are working towards incorporating between 15% to 50% recycled content in their packaging by 2050. This commitment showcases a collective effort to address the environmental footprint of plastic packaging.”

The road ahead

The road ahead is however one that is still long, and will require considerable funding – and commitment – along the way. Analysis by Frost & Sullivan shows that approximately 10% of the total plastic waste generated in the Kingdom, which equates to around 3 million tons, is currently being recycled.

“The potential for growth in reaching the country's waste management targets is substantial.”

Frost & Sullivan specialises in providing governments and players in the plastics chain with growth advisory, market entry support, and strategic counsel around the direction needed for success. “The plastic recycling sector in the Kingdom is at the brink of a significant transformation, we are delighted to play an important part.”