(MENAFN - Arab News) Manufacturing operations in Saudi Arabia lag far behind those in most other countries when it comes to utilizing environmentally sound techniques and renewable energy, otherwise knows as "green" technology, voluntarily.
"In Saudi Arabia," according to economist Dr. Yassin Al-Jefri, "companies still have to be forced by law to implement green technology."
Dr. Al-Jefri pointed to Western countries where the manufacturing industry has been obligated to adopt environment-friendly standards and specified goals in the reduction of pollutants.
There is also an economic side to switching to green technology, Dr. Al-Jefri said. "It's not just for the environment but the reduction of production costs."
According Mohammed Jouda, a manager at HillKnowlton, the international public relations firm, "Twenty percent of Saudi industrial companies have started to apply environmental standards in their manufacturing operations. This includes companies focusing on recycling paper, plastic, aluminum and bottles."
A study conducted by Unilever of the life cycle of their own products showed that only 5 percent of the total life cycle of the product is directly under the company's control, from manufacturing to warehousing to the transportation phase. Ninety five percent of the product's life is either at the source or at the consumer's home and after disposal.
"This magnifies the challenge to bring about change in the other 95 percent of the product life cycle over which we have no direct control," according to Yasser Joharji, Managing Director of Unilever in Saudi Arabia. "A substantial increase in resource efficiency is essential to achieve sustainable green growth, it is also economic sensible.
"For example a bottle of Comfort Fabric Conditioner Concentrate, our flagship fabric conditioner, used instead of the traditional fabric conditioner in diluted form can result in a 43 percent reduction in production of greenhouse gases, a 47 percent reduction in waste packaging and a 62 percent reduction in water usage. With an ever-growing economy, global resource extraction increased by 78 percent between 1980 and 2008 and is predicted to keep rising.
If the exploitation of resources continues at this pace, many critical resources will soon be depleted. There is a misconception that environmental investments are costly. In fact environmental investments are not costly, because 90 percent of these investments will pay back within four years."