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Abu Dhabi to go plastic-free this weekend

Silvia Radan and Anwar Ahmad / 23 February 2011

February 24-26 has been declared a plastic bag-free weekend in Abu Dhabi. With the nation overindulging in using 11.6 billion plastic bags every year.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) and the full support of the emirate’s major supermarkets and shopping malls, is launching the anti-plastic bag campaign to stress the serious harm caused by this item.

“According to the Centre for Waste Management - Abu Dhabi, plastic makes up 19 per cent of domestic waste in Abu Dhabi city,” said Dr. Jaber Al Jaberi, executive director of the EAD’s Environment Operations Sector.

Since they smell of food and are easily carried across land and water by the wind, plastic bags end up being eaten by camels and other farm animals, as well as turtles and wild animals or fish, causing them a slow and painful death.

Therefore, during the weekend campaign, no non-biodegradable plastic bags will be available at any of the 39 outlets of the supermarkets supporting Plastic Bag Free Weekend.

“In support of this campaign, we will charge 20 fils per bag over the campaign weekend and will donate all the money gathered to a charity chosen by the EAD,” declared Colette Shannon, marketing manager of Spinney’s.

The decomposition process of a non-biodegradable plastic bag takes up to 400 years and even then, they remain toxic after breaking down.

As a result of a government decision to phase out the use of plastic bags by 2013, major supermarkets in the country have already switched from the harmful non-biodegradable plastic bags to the ones that degrade naturally in two years.

“We are currently targeting school students across the country and have distributed 10,000 jute bags to them so far,” said Dr Mariam Al Shanasy, MEW undersecretary.

This weekend’s campaign is also meant to prepare consumers in Abu Dhabi about the complete federal phase out of plastic bags in two years’ time.

Apart from supermarkets’ pro-biodegradable shopping bags actions, the EAD will instal awareness and information kiosks in the main malls in both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, while mosques sermons will be given on the matter during Friday’s prayers and a competition will be run over the Quran Radio with winners offered vouchers of up to Dh500.

 
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