The green team

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The green team
By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Senior Feature Writer GULF NEWS Published: October 16, 2008

Did you know that a tonne of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 1,132 litres of oil, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 26,600 litres of water?

Masafi – UAE’s beverage company – knows and believes in these facts and has recently introduced hundred per cent recycled cartons for packaging its bottles. Considering that the UAE has the largest consumption of natural mineral water and that Masafi manufactures about 8.6 million boxes
to deliver about 320 million bottles each year, you can very well imagine the massive impact this step will have in ecological conservation.

In the past three decades, the company has diversified from bottling mineral water to creating flavoured water, juices and also paper tissues.

This is not the only thing the company is doing. Recycling is part of a larger comprehensive action plan that it announced recently.

The plan is to implement it as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy to reduce its eco footprint in the campaign for sustainable living.

Masafi in Arabic means ‘pure water’. In a hilly village at the foot of the Hajar mountains between Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, are a lot of fresh water springs with high mineral content. So when bottled water from those springs was to be marketed 30 years ago, the company decided to go by the name of the village that stood for purity of water.

Over the last three decades, purity of water has come to mean a lot to Masafi. It has taken it upon itself to work with the highest standards of quality and professionalism.

After receiving several awards from the International Bottling Water Association (IBWA) and being granted the toughest standard for environmental management – the ISO 14001-2004 certification – Masafi has decided to go for the carbon action plan.

By doing so, Masafi has become the only beverage company in the UAE to actually take action in saving the environment.

Elaborating on the strategy in an exclusive interview with Friday, Natascha Edelmann, head of marketing on the Masafi Carbon Action Plan – unveiled on July 6 and due to
commence by the end of the year – says:
“Our focus has three strands:
education, collection and disposal.”
“We’re committed to educating society and so we try to initiate schoolchildren into recycling. We have collaborated with the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) to create 18 fun recycling centres in schools and about 10 in public places.

The next step concerns collection. We have appointed environmental executives who oversee the collection of everything collected from these centres. Last year we collected about 280 metric tons of plastic.

With heightened awareness this year we hope to collect about 500 metric tons at least.”This year the company has joined hands with a Fujairah-based company, Horizon Technologies. They recycle all the plastic from these bottles to be used in non-food industries. Until last year, Masafi sold this waste to municipality approved collectors who in turn sold it to dealers abroad, especially in China, who then used the plastic in non-food industries. But this involved shipping and transportation, which in turn meant fuel consumption and therefore a substantial carbon footprint. So, by taking care of the plastic at a local factory, Masafi has successfully reduced the carbon footprint.

These strategies are interactive and require participation. Masafi believes in practising what it preaches so the eco conservation begins right from production.

Edelmann informs: “We’ve installed energy-efficient non-CFC chillers at our manufacturing unit to avoid depletion of the ozone layer and also to conserve energy.” Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are halogenated substances that, once released, deplete the ozone layer, the earth’s natural shield against UV radiation. The non-CFC chillers will
go a long way in conserving the ozone layer and they also require less energy. The old chillers used 0.85 kilowatts
of energy per ton of refrigeration while the non-CFC chillers use 0.6kilowatts of energy.

Masafi’s four-gallon one-way bottles use less resin (18g per litre) than the regular 1.5L bottle (32g per litre) to package the same amount of water. Moreover, the 4G bottles do not utilise water, electricity, chemicals for cleaning purposes compared to returnable bottles. Once empty, the one-time-use bottles are sent for recycling.

The company is doing all it can to redeem these bottles. “We plan to go online soon and address general managers and CEOs of companies with 500 or more employees. Whatever brand of mineral water they might use, we are willing to install recycling cages in their premises free of charge and collect those bottles regularly at no extra cost to them.

The campaign aims to get top management advisers who feel a responsibility to the environment to sign up for it. Anyone can call us to come and collect these bottles
for recycling.”

The company has also revealed that the redemption rate for the 4G bottles has gone up by 30 per cent, indicating that consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and are disposing responsibly by giving it back to the Masafi sales team so that they can send it back to the factory for recycling purposes.

With these and many more strategies in place, Masafi plans to launch their Carbon Action Plan in a big way and make sure of performing the role of an environmentally conscious and socially responsible organisation in the UAE.

Call the toll free number 8005455 for more information.

– Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary is Senior Feature Writer, Friday