Oman’s Sohar Port and Freezone prides itself on having some of the strictest and best-policed environmental standards in the region, both above and below the waterline. To help raise awareness of the issues and to encourage recycling, the organisation recently installed drop-off points at strategic locations around the port and free zone areas. Colour coded bins accept glass, paper and plastics, while solar powered, backlit panels allow the latest environmental campaign messages to be displayed.
Sohar has also launched an awareness campaign, with images showing an underwater view of a beautiful coral reef. However, when you look more closely the coral is made of colourful plastic waste, the jellyfish are floating plastic bags, and a passing school of fish are in fact old bottles. The headline makes the message clear: ‘Recycle it up here. Not down there.’
Plastic is a collective term for a variety of synthetic polymers with variable material properties, including density. For example, clear plastic drink bottles made of PET, with resin code #1 stamped on the bottom, are denser than seawater and sink when they enter the ocean. Sohar’s chief executive, Mark Geilenkirchen, says: “This is not simply an aesthetic problem, as we know these materials breakdown over time to create so-called micro-plastics, that are ingested by fish and other marine organisms and can then easily enter the human food chain.”
Sohar aims to reduce the amount of material discarded around its concession areas through a range of environmental awareness initiatives, beach clean-up volunteer days, and better communication between the various stakeholders involved. Mark Geilenkirchen concludes: “When it comes to environmental pollution, prevention is always the best option and our new recycling bins will play a small but important part.”