In general, the review on sustainability of Rayyan’s bottled water demonstrated a shared problem for most companies in general—the lack of sufficient exposure on the sustainability section. Rayyan’s websites put great amount of emphasis on the product itself, leaving out barely any information regarding recycling and fair treatment of employees. This is a direct result of how little environmental aspects, or SDGs in general, are accentuated in critical conversations, which is why I believe the work of Voiz is significant. By educating the consumers and the companies, we are more effectively pushing forward to alter the overall environment in the market—and that leads to companies “forced” to take action in sustainability in response to the market needs.
Rayyan Water is allegedly coming from a reservoir of natural groundwater and the water were bottled later in Rayyan—a place near Doha and also where I live. There are usually two types of packaging that appears most frequently for Rayyan—they come in either plastics or glass in formal occasions. In fact, glass bottles are used more often among Qatari Arabs because of the style and design, and plastic bottles are more commonly seen among laborers. I would not say they did this “premium packaging of glass bottles” for the sake of recycling, yet they did reach a more recyclable end. Information on this most-selling bottled water in Qatar is rather limited, which I would infer to be a result of less spotlight in a general sense in Qatar as I would discuss later.
On the company’s website, they did claim to have a highly advanced production line where human contact is down to the minimum level. Judging from the level of technology Qatari enterprises could afford, I’d say they could probably do a nice job on waste management and technology. (Because obviously restrictions are more severe for a nation in the dessert) Yet the problems go with employment and fair trade. As a matter of fact, up to 98% foreigners in Qatar are employed and not many of them work in multinational enterprises—more often as laborers in construction sites or cleaning staff in the building. The gap between wages and treatment of employees is one of the most notorious aspect of the Qatari labor market—and Rayyan’s not reporting anything on this end naturally makes me suspect they would also perform maltreatment on workers—or even worse.
As aforesaid, the most severe problem is with labor treatment and it was not at all addressed in all the reports and information revealed on Rayyan. It was said that the company was founded in 1984 and had been one of the most popular brands for bottled water in Qatar—and appearing in all sorts of important occasions, yet nothing on sustainability was addressed expect a few sentences saying they are going to balance their carbon footprints. I feel like there are two problems with this statement. One being the fact that countering negative footprints in large enterprises usually does not mean they are treating the environment better, rather we suspect this as a sign for greenwashing. Another more severe problem is their labor treatment issue—no matter on wages in general or on gender issues. We understand that Rayyan is a Qatari enterprise and that they plausibly have issues with gender from a religious perspective, yet the fact that Qatar is attempting to globalize would make me expect them to behave in a way that is generally more accepted on a global scale. Since Rayyan is so frequently appeared in my life in Doha, I would expect more attention on sustainability for the company that fits its influences and size. (Not to say that larger companies should perform more responsibility, but it would be a good model for small companies to live up to)