Single-use plastic ban is a major step to save nature

Only drastic measures like total bans on the material will work to protect the environment from further degradation

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Published: Wed 24 Aug 2022, 1:45 AM

Sharjah’s proposed ban on single-use plastic bags from January next year follows Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s decisions in June and July for a greener shopping experience that has found many takers. These are small yet significant steps in the war on plastics that the country has embarked on, and there’s still a long to go. Fact is, single-use or any plastic doesn’t really break down, it simply turns into microplastic and remains in the environment from where humans and animals inhale or unwittingly consume them. Several countries, including the UAE, are concerned about the rampant use of this material and have resorted to bans, levies, and penalties. While the UAE government has taken the first step at the retail level, residents have a responsibility to limit plastic use at home while they carry reusable bags when they head to stores.

There are cloth and recycled plastic options available. It’s back to basics in a sense, shopping the old-fashioned way before our tryst with plastic happened more than five decades ago that hasn’t gone too well when we look back at what we have done to nature. In the UAE, the war on plastics has begun in right earnest and there’s no turning back. Shops, supermarkets, and residents have quickly made the shift to other materials like jute and cloth bags.

According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, around 40 per cent of plastics consumed are single-use. Plates, bags, cups and containers are made of this ubiquitous material. These single-use bags are made of fossil-fuel-based chemicals (petrochemicals). Plastic, a synthetic polymer, was invented in the 19th Century but it began to be widely used in the seventies. It was affordable, easy to produce and changed the way we package and store food. We are now paying the price for using 8.3 billion tons of plastic from the 1950s. Only drastic measures like total bans on the material will work to protect the environment from further degradation. In the desert, camels tend to eat these single-use plastic bags which block and tear their intestines. The Arabian Gulf is also threatened by the material. Curbing the use of all plastic may be a hard act to follow but the UAE is doing its bit to preserve nature with support at the grassroots.

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