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It’s not easy being green
Firms that have the will to be eco-friendly often don’t have the means, reports Gulf Marketing Review.
January 28, 2010 6:47 by Alex Malouf
For the savvy marketing professional there’s been only one colour in fashion over the past few years. Being green has become commonplace for companies during the past decade. The trend has even taken root in the Middle East, with countless local firms talking about their environmental efforts.
For Philip Hughes, managing director of recycling consultancy firm Akhdar, the positive coverage that green issues is getting is laudable. However, Hughes believes that companies need to go back to basics and begin educating the consumer before they start marketing their wares.
“In general, awareness of green issues doesn’t exist. In Europe end users have been led through a behaviour change to sort waste and be aware of green issues. Here people let the maid throw the junk out. Awareness of green issues is incredibly low. Even if people are aware of the green issue on a personal level the infrastructure is not in place,” says Hughes.
Jeremy Byatt, environment director at the Sharjah environment company Bee’ah, agrees that the private and the public sector need to work together if the region hopes to catch up with other parts of the globe.
“We need to build the physical capacity, raise people’s awareness and introduce the required regulation all at the same time. We are behind the West on this issue and parts of Asia, especially Japan.
But, there are also significant environmental initiatives under way in various African countries and in places such as Turkey. Our challenge in the Middle East is to continue raising awareness and to translate this into understanding and action.”
The Gulf’s green mindset and infrastructure are not yet comparable to Europe or the US, but Byatt believes that multinational companies based in the region are beginning to adopt the environmentally friendly policies of global organizations, as long as the infrastructure allows.
“What we are seeing in the UAE is the impact of global CSR policies at a local level. Local arms of multinationals are now often stuck looking for outlets for initiatives that may be dictated internationally, but hard to execute locally, due to the lack of facilities. A great example is Bridgestone Tyres, which has a global commitment to recycle an old tyre for every new tyre sold. To do this, one needs local tyre recycling facilities that cooperate with local partners.