Mohammed Qaryan Al Qahtani, Chairman, Al Qaryan Group, shares his thoughts on the status of the recycling industry in the Middle East, the challenges facing the sector, key developments at Al Qaryan, and his role in this important sector in an interview with Swaliha Shanavas.
Tell us briefly about your background and experience in the recycling industry. What sparked your interest in this sector?
The concept of recycling spread in the twentieth century due to the lack of adequate quantities of raw material resources, which contributed to the emergence of this idea.
What I like about recycling is that it has been constantly evolving, which gradually results in a lot of environmental benefits. The evaluation of recycling processes raises the possibility of bringing them to industrial production means which contributes a lot in manufacturing many new materials to reduce the demand for raw materials for future generations.
Perhaps the idea has reached the developmental stage of being the basis of what has recently become a circular economy. Working in this field makes you create compatibility between industry and a clean environment where you can change your idea of industry polluting the environment since recycling industry makes it better and cleaner.
In your capacity as the Chairman of Al Qaryan, what is your normal day at work like?
Of course, there is always a busy schedule including meetings to discuss strategy, product development, sales and so on. It also includes travelling for meetings, conferences, and other business-related gatherings. The day-to-day activities of recycling are characterised by field supervision, because I believe it contributes a lot to the required daily activities that are the basis of recycling to be done in a perfect manner.
What is the current state of recycling in the Middle East and what are your views on the development of metal recycling industry in the region/KSA?
The recycling industry in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular has not yet reached the level that the global transformative industries have, and has not yet made maximum use of recyclable materials such as paper, glass, aluminium and other metals. Even reducing waste dumps/landfills is not at the level it should have reached in order to reduce harmful environmental costs and maximising benefits for the national economy. As a company working in the Kingdom’s recycling sector, we hope that a recycling culture will develop in all segments of the society to become an industry of national importance.
What are the major challenges facing this sector in the Region/KSA, and what are the key issues that need to be addressed?
The challenges we face in the recycling industry lie in the negative perception of the term waste, where some see it as a negative term, while the opposite is true. The recyclable materials in waste have commercial and industrial importance, especially considering that natural resources are constantly decreasing.
How has your company been faring over the past three decades and are there any recent changes in your business model to adapt to the current market situation?
Al Qaryan Group started operations in 1988 with the traditional collection and sorting of mineral waste. The company quickly integrated with the global development through continuous follow-up by senior management to introduce the most modern machines along with the development in various fields in terms of quality, operation and international safety systems.
What is the company’s role in promoting recycling in KSA and what are the measures you are putting in place to ensure sustainable operations?
Al Qaryan Group, like all other establishments operating in the same field, believes that it is necessary to cooperate to produce added value on recycled materials and to work together to raise the level of the culture of the community. We will follow the steps of continuous development in this field through international partnerships and our presence at international forums and membership in institutes and specialised organisations.
We organise a lot of recycling awareness campaigns for the community, especially for schools. We have developed a whole recycling awareness programme for school kids alone. We also support those who study environmental specialities to work with us in these awareness campaigns to instill social responsibility along with the knowledge they acquire. Such campaigns are also done with our partners to raise awareness among the employees, which further helps them share this knowledge with their families. We support all environmental associations by several means and do not hesitate to support any environmental conferences and exhibitions that aim to raise environmental awareness and promote a culture of recycling.
What are your key achievements? Tell us about your future plans and how you are strategising for success in the present market scenario.
We managed to make the full cycle of metal recycling. We have started our steel industry operations and have our own steel production plant. We have future plans for the establishment of other metal factories such as copper and aluminium from those re-processed materials.
What do you love most about your job?
That we seek a future to continue the work in the recycling industry and create new innovations from the use of modern technologies for production, also supporting a clean environment with strong partnership with all investors in the same field, as well as having the country’s support for the development of this industry.