Abu Dhabi on its way to a plastic-free future


Abu Dhabi, way, plastic-free, future, eliminate, single-use plastics

This will be done by "fostering a culture of recycling and re-use and encouraging more sustainable practices in the community".


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 10 Mar 2020, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 10 Mar 2020, 11:04 PM

New regulations and fees will be introduced to implement a policy to reduce single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi. As reported by Khaleej Times, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) on Monday announced a comprehensive policy to eliminate single-use plastics in the emirate by 2021.
This will be done by "fostering a culture of recycling and re-use and encouraging more sustainable practices in the community".
According to a report presented at the World Government Summit in February 2019, 11 billion plastic bags are consumed in the UAE annually (which is equivalent to 1,184 plastic bags per person per year compared to a global average of 307).
According to the EAD, the region's first-of-its-kind policy will be implemented over the next two years in coordination with government and private stakeholders. It was prepared with the support of Emirates Nature-WWF and 12 government entities, including the Department of Economic Development. Six major outlets and many private sector entities producing plastic materials in Abu Dhabi were also involved.
Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General, EAD, said: "By implementing this new policy, Abu Dhabi will be joining more than 127 countries around the world that have already taken measures to ban or limit the use of disposable plastic materials. Our policy is aligned with international standards in order to make Abu Dhabi a pioneer in reducing the use of avoidable single-use plastic and non-plastic materials by 2021."
Fees, incentives, ban
According to the EAD, fees would be levied on the targetted items at first before they are gradually banned. Incentives would be offered for sustainable alternatives.
The policy identifies the 16 most common single-use plastics that constitute the largest amount of marine waste (according to global studies) and will be targetted to varying degrees.
These include plastic bags, beverage cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers. Plastic bottles will be targeted through the introduction of a bottle-return scheme supported with incentives.
Dr Al Dhaheri said: "An estimated 13 million tonnes of plastic enter the world's oceans annually, altering vital habitats, endangering marine wildlife and impacting the food chain by releasing toxic chemical compounds. This issue is a grave concern for the preservation of our local species, posing a threat to our marine wildlife, sea turtles and seabirds, among others. Our policy responds to this global issue.
"If we do not take bold steps to contain the use of single-use plastics through influencing behavior and effective waste management, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and seas by 2050. This will create lasting impacts on not just ocean health, but ultimately human health and global food security."
Retailers set for change
Malls and retail outlets are among the biggest stakeholders when it comes to making Abu Dhabi plastic-free. And managements of these outlets have said that they will fully cooperate with the authorities concerned to do their bit.
Yusuf Ghadiyali, quality manager - retail operations, at Lulu Group Office in Abu Dhabi, said the group has been promoting the use of recyclable bags for the past five years. "We have been promoting re-usable bags that are environment friendly and giving them out to customers for free. But shoppers still lack the habit of recycling as many don't bring back the bags when they return for shopping," said Ghadiyali.
"We really welcome the new policy and shall cooperate with the authorities to implement it."
Mayank Pal from Abu Dhabi's Khalidiya Mall said the management will definitely get involved in implementing the new policy. "We shall raise awareness among owners of various stores and supermakets at the mall to ensure they limit the use of plastic bags," said Pal.

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