Earlier in the year, the Executive Council of Dubai approved a policy to charge 25 fils per single-use plastic bag, across all stores and restaurants, including online deliveries, in Dubai — starting July 1 — in an effort to discourage the rampant usage.
It was hailed as a new dimension in the history of the UAE’s endeavour to do away with single-use plastic bags altogether in the not-too-distant future — in keeping with its already impressive mission to take on matters related to environment health. So how did the ‘challenge’ fare in the first month of its implementation?
Well, the verdict is out. Retailers in Dubai have now reported that there has been an overwhelming response from consumers, with many stating that there has been an approximately 40 per cent drop in consumption of such bags in July. Shoppers are instead getting along eco-friendly and recycled bags, and there clearly has been a massive effort to get acclimatised to the new climate that has dawned upon us.
But obviously, this is only the first step in the right direction, and this good deed needs to keep going strong — and we’re all hoping that the day is not far off when there will be a 100 per cent compliance.
Here’s the extent of the harm your ‘convenient’ single-use plastic bag is capable of engendering. Unlike biodegradable stuff — that are capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms — it never breaks down, and, instead, become bits of microplastics that pollute the environment. These microplastics, when exposed to sunlight, produce methane and ethylene, and we all know how detrimental those can be for the world’s ecosystem. It’s also a fact that the ready availability of plastic bags makes us more wasteful. Anything we don’t need — or don’t consume — can be thrown away with ease. Our garbage bags keep piling up with junk we have accumulated.
Closely woven into this matter of the single-use plastic bags ban is also the hope that we will become more responsible citizens and residents, who will take informed decisions as consumers.
For long, convenience had been touted as the easy way out to not paying heed to the damage being unleashed by plastic bags to the environment. The human population cannot even afford to say something as banal as “it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee” — because we should have smelt it long back. Not the coffee but the dank smell of our planet hurtling towards a dystopian future.
With this welcome piece of news that Dubai is deciding to turn its back on single-use plastic bags, the environment will benefit by leaps and bounds.
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According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), between 2015 and 2020, the rate of global deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year