Through policies, programs, and raising awareness, QF is playing a key role in reducing the damage that single-use plastic causes to the environment
From reducing the number of plastic bags and bottles within its Education City home to nearly zero, to guiding and incentivizing people toward taking a more environmentally-responsible approach to life, Qatar Foundation is walking the talk when it comes to sustainability.
As single-use plastics continue to damage the global environment – accounting for almost half of all plastic waste – countries around the world are setting their sights on reducing the use of these items through measures that range from bans on usage and import, taxes, and fines, to educating their populations about the dangers they pose.
And with Qatar’s national vision, and its commitment to delivering a carbon-neutral World Cup, laying out how the nation wants to build a more sustainable environment for its people, Qatar Foundation (QF) is taking action and changing mindsets within its own environment, reflecting its role as a leader in the sphere of sustainability.
One of the key areas in which QF is doing this is through reducing single-use plastics within Education City, with its efforts in this area being outlined in a new report that illustrates the measures that have already been taken – and their impact –and those that are in the pipeline.
We’ve been putting measures in place for the past four years to drastically cut the amount of single-use plastic within our organization and our community
As Nisreen N. Abdrabbo, Head of Environment Compliance, QF Health, Safety, and Environment, explains: “With sustainability being at the core of Qatar Foundation’s mission and its ethos, and recognizing that what we do at QF matters to the nation’s ecological footprint, we’ve been putting measures in place for the past four years to drastically cut the amount of single-use plastic within our organization and our community.
“One way we’ve done this is by introducing new policies designed to prevent wasteful use of plastics, leading to single-use plastic bottles and bags being banned in Education City and the amount of plastic waste used in our construction projects being reduced. QF is about education and knowledge, so we have also carried out behavior-nudging campaigns and awareness programs that steer our community toward making more environmentally-conscious choices.
Banning single-use plastics at Education City has been very effective, but just as important is our current work to empower the community to act for the environment and protect it
“And we have capitalized on the power of incentivization – encouraging people to recycle through initiatives that reach out to Qatar’s community, and actively looking for, and rewarding, suppliers and vendors who offer eco-friendly and reusable items.”
This approach means that, every month, around 112,000 plastic bottles are no longer being wasted and 120,000 plastic bags are no longer being used at QF, while plastic waste on construction sites at QF has fallen by 20 percent. Meanwhile, reusable packaging options are available at cafes, supermarkets, and vendors operating on QF premises.
We work closely with SMEs to help them transition to more environmentally conscious practices within their Education City operations, with the hope that they adopt these practices in their other locations across Qatar
QF-organized awareness events for the community – where reusable bags were handed out to attendees as behavior nudging tools – and student-targeted education workshops, which emphasized that water from a drinking fountain is no different from water in a plastic bottle, have driven home the impact of plastic on the environment, with more planned for later in the year.
Meanwhile, a program titled Say No To Plastic Waste, aimed at encouraging school students to use less plastic, struck such a chord that students at Qatar Academy Doha, part of QF’s Pre-University Education, launched their own Activists In Action campaign. As well as covering the school’s floors and walls with plastic bags to show the amount of waste society generates, they launched a petition calling for single-use bags to be banned across Qatar, which has so far received more than 7,250 signatures.
“Education City is a unique environment. Initiatives, policies, and programs can be implemented, assessed, and adjusted with a view to potentially informing actions at a national level,” explains Ouassim M. Alami, Strategic Initiatives Advisor, QF Operations.
We hope to help bring about a genuine change in mindset toward use of plastics among the wider community of Qatar
“It can be a test-bed and a research partner for national policy in the field of sustainability and environmental stewardship. We have been able to implement initiatives and programs that demonstrate how pragmatic action can be taken to reduce our carbon impact. And, with our partners, we work on regulatory, awareness, and behavioral aspects that support our green transition.
“Banning single-use plastics at Education City has been very effective, but just as important is our current work to empower the community to act for the environment and protect it.”
Future plans include a project that will encourage QF’s community to buy and use eco-friendly products; an initiative that will allow people across Qatar to drop off their plastic waste at an installation in QF, where it will be turned into new products; and a dedicated area for waste segregation and recycling within Education City.
“We work closely with SMEs to help them transition to more environmentally conscious practices within their Education City operations, with the hope that they adopt these practices in their other locations across Qatar,” explained Mohammed Makki, Commercial Director, QF. “As demand increases, the cost of these practices decreases, which in turn should lead to additional companies becoming more sustainable.”
“This is only the start,” said Nawal Al-Sulaiti, Sustainability Specialist, QF Operations. “Through the initiatives we have already established, and those we have planned for the future, we hope to help bring about a genuine change in mindset toward use of plastics among the wider community of Qatar – and play our part in making us a nation that thinks greener and acts greener,”