How Abu Dhabi will look without single-use plastics

EAD official outlines its plans to eradicate single-use plastic bags in the Emirate


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 12:27 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 12:48 PM

Sheikha Al Mazrouei, Acting Executive Director - Integrated Environment Policy & Planning at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), has outlined how the UAE capital will look when single-use plastic bags are soon eradicated.

The policy was launched by EAD and the Abu Dhabi government at the height of the Covid-19 breakout in 2020.

Earlier this week, an EAD official said that the ban on single-use plastics in Abu Dhabi would come to force soon.

However, Al Mazrouei told Khaleej Times, "Many of the policy instruments were affected and delayed by the pandemic like applying measures targeting specific single-use plastic products," adding that, "the timing of application of these measures are [yet] to be announced by EAD."

The agency is currently using the time of the pandemic to develop the regulatory framework in close cooperation with the relevant private and public sector actors.

"Our plan is bringing all these instruments back on track in close coordination with the concerned Covid-19 authorities to ensure alignment," Al Mazrouei explained.

So what can we expect when the policy is finally implemented?

Reusable ones will replace single-use grocery bags. There will be “a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags,” said Al Mazrouei.

This will ensure that plastic bags be removed from all producers and retailers, and shoppers will be expected to use reusable bags when shopping in the capital.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

“The policy measures are going to affect the supply chain from producers and manufacturers to retailers and waste management operators. For example, the ban on single-use plastic bags targets any form of handling them within the Emirate.

“EAD, in coordination with the concerned authorities, is going to define the outlets targeted by these measures,” Al Mazrouei said.

Furthermore, the official added, “We want to change the overconsumption pattern of bags and ensure the multiple-use bags are used only when needed and properly captured in the waste management system.”

What other environmentally-friendly measures are included in the policy?

Plastic bottles: Contamination risk?
Plastic bottles: Contamination risk?

The environment agency will also discourage plastic bottles usage, and a scheme to return plastic bottles will be enforced.

Aside from the ban of single-use plastic bags, EAD will establish “an incentive-based bottle return scheme to ensure recovery of potable water bottles,” Al Mazrouei noted.

“The bottle return scheme is to be managed by producers, retailers, waste operators and relevant authorities,” she added.

What are the benefits and goals of this initiative?

“The overall aim is to shift from single-use to multiple-use products with the least impact on the environment,” Al Mazrouei explained.

“We want to change consumer’s behaviour and reduce consumption of avoidable cutlery, plates and cups. Also, we want to recover single-use plastic bottles as much as possible. Overall, we aim to promote circularity of the system and reduce single-use plastic flow to dumpsites and the environment,” she added.


How does EAD plan to advice and educate the public on what to expect?

“Awareness is the backbone for introducing such policy measures. After all, these instruments aim to change the current consumption culture into a more sustainable one.

“Awareness and outreach campaigns will be launched to support this aim. They will be designed carefully not to contradict any other current or future pandemic declared measures. We want to protect the environment and public health at the same time,” Al Mazrouei concluded.

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