UAE could soon ban plastic bags
Abu Dhabi - The UAE consumes as many as 13 billion plastic bags each year.
The UAE may see a ban on the use of plastic bags this year, members of the Federal National Council (FNC) heard on Tuesday.
As many as 13 billion plastic bags are consumed in the UAE each year, and hence FNC members urged for swift action by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) to abolish non-decomposable bags and called for alternative environmental-friendly products.
Hamad Ahmad Al Rahoumi, member from Dubai, questioned Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, on the initiative, which has been in place since 2009.
"In October 2009 an initiative was launched by the Ministry of Environment to make the UAE free of plastic bags," he said. "Yet, this initiative has not reached its goal, despite the fact that it's been six years."
Al Rahoumi pointed out that it's crucial to take swift action on the matter, as the UAE consumes as many as 13 billion plastic bags each year.
Al Zeyoudi responded comprehensively, highlighting that the MoE has introduced a number of programmes that aim to abolish the use of non-decomposable products in the country.
He also noted that various initiatives and programmes have been introduced which will help reduce the number of plastic products and will be accomplished in coordination with shops and supermarkets.
"The MoE will push the parties concerned, companies and shops to find alternatives to plastic bags."
Programmes are also being introduced in schools to educate children about the negative impact of plastics and non-decomposable products on the environment, he added.
Through these initiatives, the Ministry of Environment aims to complete the goal of a plastic-bag free nation this year.
Al Rahoumi however, debated Al Zeyoudi and urged for the initiatives to be implemented rapidly and seriously.
"It is our job to follow up on this issue and on the initiatives that you have introduced, so that it is not just published in the media for attention. Instead, we need to actually see the goal come to life," he pointed out.
Global plastic waste annually: 32 million tonnes
* A study by Earth Policy Institute indicated that over one trillion plastic bags are consumed globally. Furthermore, almost 32 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually, thus representing 12.7 per cent of total municipal solid waste, as indicated by Environmental Protection Agency.
* Moreover, the US consumes over 100 billion plastic bags each year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. In 2009, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), also called on a ban on plastic bags, stating that it chokes marine life.
* Each year, 10 per cent of the plastic produced globally end up in the ocean, while 70 per cent will end on the ocean floor and unlikely to degrade.
* So far, selected stores in San Francisco have banned the use of plastic bags, as well as in Portland, Oregon and Coastal North Carolina. In the UK, Modbury became the first town to ban the use of plastic bags.
* Mexico City also adopted the ban, as well as Sydney's Oyster Bay, which was the first Australian suburb to introduce the environmental-friendly rule.
* Rwanda, having a reputation for being one of the cleanest nations in the world, has made non-biodegradable polythene bags illegal since 2008.