“Not only technological solutions and retrofits but also an associated change in mindsets and behaviours at all levels and in all communities will solve the waste management problems faced by Qatar,” says the study titled ‘Towards a more sustainable waste management in Qatar: Retrofitting mindsets and changing behaviours.’
Published on Qscience.com, the study was conducted and by Sarah F Clarke, DSC Solutions WLL, Waqas Nawaz, Hamad Bin Khalifa University as well as Cynthia Skelhorn and Alex Amato from the Qatar Green Building Council. A survey was conducted to explore the attitudes of people towards Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management in Qatar. The hypothesis of the survey was the current attitudes of individuals towards MSW generation and handling are leading to the large amount of MSW and therefore, the behaviour of society is the key to reduce the waste generation from current levels.
The key components to study the attitude of a society towards the generation and management of waste were the level of understanding of the population with regard to MSW; the common practices leading to large amounts of MSW; the willingness of people to change those practices and the motivating factors to reduce MSW. An online survey was conducted to test the hypothesis and 276 people responded to the survey. A set of 18 close ended questions were included in the survey adequately covering the scope of the study such as waste management in the country, food waste, domestic and industrial wastage among other topics.
While the survey suggests a willingness among Qatar’s residents to act in environmentally friendly ways, there are also instances of garbage left on beaches, plastic bags floating in the wind among other wrong practices. This study illustrated how Qatar is tackling waste management. The discussion and the survey results demonstrate that simply designing in waste management options may not be sufficient to achieve National Development Strategy targets, let alone anything near a zero-waste philosophy.
What seems to be required is a retrofitting of mindsets and mechanisms to encourage changes in behaviours that complement the physical retrofitting of the built environment. The study suggests that the change in the mindsets of people will enable the emergence of a shared vision of effective waste management for Qatar together with an implementation strategy. According to the study it may be achieved by taking responsibility for waste and redefining their relationship with it and unravelling the rules and re-thinking how things are done to find innovative ways of eliminating waste, whatever its source.
The study also recommends exploring the “impossible” and aiming for zero target; looking for the catalysts and their networks; celebrating their achievements and use them to energise and engage others; educating with big, brave out-of-the-box projects that spark people’s imaginations and encourage others to join in and investing in practical research projects to determine what works in Qatar.
Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times