International and local non-governmental organizations NGOs have allocated boxes in public schools of two districts south of Sulaymaniyah Northern province to collect and reuse plastic waste to make chairs and toys as part of a plastic waste recycling project.
The project, which was launched last August, entered its second phase on Thursday, October 20, with the installation of special bins for collecting water bottles and other plastic waste. It is scheduled to continue until February 2023, when all plastic waste will be collected and transported to a recycling center.
Bakhan Jamal, a member of the Wadi, a German NGO team at the organization's main office in Sulaymaniyah, told (KirkukNow), "In addition to establishing a recycling center, this project includes activities and awareness campaigns to preserve the environment and to clarify the damages and spread of plastic waste and its impact on water and climate."
"The goal of this project is to protect humans and the environment from the toxins of plastic materials and to educate the public," Bakhan added.
"Currently, climate changes in the world, including Iraq and the Kurdistan Region (KRI) led to rising temperatures and the dangers of groundwater scarcity, so the presence of such projects is very important."
This is the second experience of Wadi after the success of a similar project it carried out in Halabja district, southwest of Sulaymaniyah, where plastic waste is now collected in and recycled to produce chairs, toys and accessories.
An activity by both NGOs to urge students to put plastic water bottles into iron boxes.
Darbaz Majeed, head of the Rang (Colour) Organization for Development and Culture, which implements the project in cooperation with the Wadi in the Garmian administration areas, told (KirkukNow) this project is the first of its kind in the region, and is implemented in cooperation with the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
"In the first step, five iron boxes are set up in each school for students and teachers to put their plastic waste... After the bins are full, the plastic waste is transferred to a recycling center that is scheduled to open soon in Kifri, where benches, flowerpots and children's toys will be made."
In Iraq, there is a unified trend at the present led by NGOs and the media to pay greater attention to environmental issues and climate change.
Last September, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture revealed that almost three million hectars of land in Iraq are under the threat by desertification due to climate change, noting that the most affected is the province of Dhi Qar, where desertification hit half of agricultural farms and lands.
Ali Hammoud, Director General of the Agricultural Lands Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said in a statement to the semi-official Al-Iraqiya channel, "Climate changes and water scarcity have caused great damage to agricultural lands."
Ziba Ali Baram (65 years old), a service employee at Nowruz School in Kifri District, welcomed the project and said, “Every day I am busy cleaning my school environment from six in the morning until 12 in the afternoon, because the children here throw water and juice cans.”
“Setting up these boxes and educating the children matters. It is very important to urge them to put the plastic waste inside the boxes designated for this."
Sarah Mohammed, a fifth-grade student at Nowruz School, where the launch of the project was announced during a special event, said, "They taught us not to throw away plastic bottles from now on and to put them in that box."
Hiwa Muhammad, director of Nowruz School in Kifri told (KirkukNow), "We ask to expand the project by Wadi and Rang organizations because it is an important step for the future of the environment in Iraq and preparing for climate change."
Kifri is one of the districts located within the disputed territories under the Iraqi constitution and part of Diyala province run by the Iraqi government, while administratively is one of the districts of the Garmian administration.
Garmian local administration which includes several districts and sub-districts between Sulaymaniyah and Diyala province is part of Sulaymaniyah Northern Province, one of the provinces of Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI under the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.