The Duke of Cambridge has revealed his family recycles “as much as we can” but he has concerns about what happens to their waste.
William’s comments came as he joined litter pickers on a beach in Kuwait, tackling the scourge of plastic pollution, and indulged in a spot of birdwatching.
Speaking during a visit to the windswept Jahra nature reserve near Kuwait City, where the volunteers were working, the duke told the young environmentalists: “Where does your recycling go? Out of town?”
William, who has just begun a four-day tour of the Middle East, added: “We recycle as much as we can at home but I worry about the chain, what happens to it? We need joined-up thinking – it’s a joined-up effort.”
The royal spoke about his disgust at the use of plastics and described the material as the “enemy”.
He said: “We’ve made sure we are travelling here we only take our metal bottles with us. Lots of metal bottles.
“I hate plastic bottles now and I look at them and I literally think it’s the enemy – you see a plastic bottle and I’m like ‘eugh!’ Horrible isn’t it?”
The duke had walked the shore of Persian Gulf mudflats following a trail of plastic bottles, discarded packaging and carrier bags washed up at the reserve.
He stopped to chat with representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), environmental volunteers and members of other groups who are following the global movement and tackling the issue.
William told the group there needed to be a worldwide litter-picking day, adding: “A lot of people lead busy lives, we have a quick, fast-paced life, but we need to be more conscious about it in the future.
“We all need to shift our mindset and you guys are part of the solution.”
The duke chatted to Carina Maceira, 20, a teacher, and Yousef Al-Shattii, 32, a geologist, who co-founded Trashtag Kuwait, a a non-profit organisation working to clear public spaces of pollution.
He sympathised with the activists, saying: “It must be quite demoralising for you to be out there all day and then come back and find it all full up again.”
William added: “It’s amazing that you guys are doing what you do, but we need to do more to stop [the pollution] in the first place.”
Dr Abdullah Al-Zaidan, director general of technical affairs for the Environment Public Authority, which manages the reserve, joined the duke for the visit.
He said the site was important nationally and globally as a haven and refuelling stopover for hundreds of species of migratory birds, and others that make it their permanent home.
Dr Al-Zaidan added: “We have four eco-systems here – salt marsh, freshwater, marine and coastal systems. We are trying to raise awareness about what we have.
“The young people here are taking responsibility for combating the pollution, 10 to 15 years ago we would have had a couple of volunteer teams – now there are tens of groups.”
William toured the reserve by golf buggy and before he met the litter pickers, he was taken to a bird hide where he tried to spot some of the local wildlife.
During his buggy tour, he glimpsed lesser flamingos in the distance and saw a greater spotted eagle.
Joking with the press as he looked through a set of binoculars, when he stopped briefly, he said: “Ah, a lesser spotted media pack. Well known in these parts.”
Earlier, the duke was granted an audience with the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, at his Bayan Palace and stayed for lunch.
And he ended his day at a lavish desert encampment staged in his honour and ate under the stars.
William was driven to the outskirts of the capital Kuwait City where men in traditional dress carrying swords sang as he arrived and nearby was a recreated oasis, hunting hawks, musicians and displays of traditional crafts.
The evening was staged by Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah, deputy minister of the Amiri Diwan, the Amir’s court.
The duke met a number of young Kuwaitis including university students, young leaders, and entrepreneurs, as well as people working in the mental health arena.
He chatted about previous trips his father, the Prince of Wales, has made to the county and saw the funny side of things as a camel grunted loudly every time he spoke.
Before dinner William sat down at a campfire to enjoy the atmosphere as a flautist played nearby and at a tent, a short distance away, met women weavers keeping the tradition of textile manufacture alive in Kuwait.