Saudi companies, consumers embrace concerns over climate change

Saudi companies, consumers embrace concerns over climate change
Public understanding of the increasing challenges related to global warming is reassuringly high in the Kingdom, a new report reveals. (SPA)
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Updated 20 February 2021

Saudi companies, consumers embrace concerns over climate change

Saudi companies, consumers embrace concerns over climate change
  • Saudi dairy company Almarai has commissioned one of the largest private solar-energy facilities in the world
  • Nestle Middle East has achieved a 42% reduction in water withdrawal per ton of product since 2010

JEDDAH: Public understanding of the increasing challenges related to global warming is reassuringly high in the Kingdom, and the government, organizations and civil society continue to play their role in embracing environmental protection measures, a new report reveals.
The study by consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that 55 percent of consumers in the Kingdom have reaffirmed their willingness to implement more sustainable acts into their everyday lives, and also that green infrastructure, financial incentives and a wider variety of affordable eco-friendly products and services will help drive progress.
The report, “Are Consumers in the Gulf States Ready to Go Green?,” found that 70 percent of consumers in the Kingdom are largely aware of climate change and how the world is negatively affected by the problem.
Forty-three percent of respondents also said they believed climate change had a direct impact on their personal lives, and about two-thirds expect that it will have an impact on future generations.
“Climate change concerns in the Kingdom have increased due to greater access to information and successful government and corporate-backed initiatives, most notably through the efforts such as the Saudi Efficiency Program and Vision 2030, which takes a holistic approach to tackling the challenges of becoming more sustainable” said Simon Birkebaek, partner at BCG.
“If public and private sectors were to do even more to facilitate awareness initiatives, green infrastructure investments, and offer a wider choice of affordable eco-friendly goods and services then more people will choose to pursue sustainable lifestyles.”
However, BCG also pointed out that the Kingdom only recycles, reuses and recovers about 15 percent of the waste currently produced, while electric vehicles are also relatively scarce. Despite this, it did highlight some advances made by brands in Saudi Arabia to embrace an eco-friendly and more sustainable approach.
For example, Saudi dairy company Almarai commissioned one of the largest private solar-energy facilities in the world. It has also converted lighting to LED at its facilities, pledges to remove from its goods 3,000 tons of plastic packaging and the majority of its dairy products now have recyclable packaging.
Nestle Middle East has achieved a 42 percent reduction in water withdrawal per ton of product since 2010 and a 34 percent decrease in energy consumption. It has also achieved a 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, despite production rising by 68 percent.
Packing company Tetra Pak has invested more than $1 million in a beverage carton recycling facility in Saudi Arabia. It has partnered with Obeikan Paper Industries (OPI), which owns a paper mill in Riyadh, to facilitate the collection and recycling of the milk and juice cartons Tetra Pak produces.
“Because demand for sustainable goods and services has increased, companies in KSA will experience potential growth opportunities if they adapt their go-to-market strategies to more effectively cater to customers’ changing demands, specifically better options, more accessible price points, and better promotion of the benefits of sustainability,” said Cristiano Rizzi, managing director and partner, BCG Middle East.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Kingdom’s energy minister told a panel of energy leaders at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in Riyadh in January that Saudi Arabia was doing more than many Western countries to tackle climate change by the end of the decade.
“Whatever we will do in the Kingdom will support emissions reduction, and we are doing it willingly because the economic benefits (from new energy technologies) are clear,” he said.
“We will enjoy being looked at as a reasonable and responsible international citizen because we will be doing more than most European countries by 2030 (to combat climate change),” he said.
Saudi Arabia had “set the pace” in tackling the global energy crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince Abdul Aziz said.