Abu Dhabi to phase out disposable plastics

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Abu Dhabi to phase out disposable plastics

09 Mar 2020

Abu Dhabi has announced an initiative to gradually phase out disposable plastics, in a first for the UAE.

In line with improving environmental policies, there will be the introduction of new regulations and fees to prepare for the move.

The emirate is due to introduce compulsory charges for plastic bags before banning them completely within two years.

Among another 15 items to be targeted is plastic cutlery, usually with takeaway and delivery food, along with disposable plates and plastic straws.

A bottle-return scheme will also be introduced, in which residents will be compensated for returning used containers for recycling.

New environmental policies targeting plastic use have been mooted in the UAE for years. Now the Abu Dhabi government is introducing the measures as part of the Ghadan21 programme.

Abu Dhabi plans to be free of disposable plastic bags by 2021, officials said.

“The launch of the single-use plastics policy reflects our commitment to a more sustainable economy that seeks to minimise waste and protect vital ecosystems in our environment,” said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, secretary general of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

“By implementing this new policy, Abu Dhabi will be joining more than 127 countries that have already taken measures to ban or limit the use of disposable plastic materials.

“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 ... there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and seas by 2050.”

This would affect “not just ocean health, but ultimately human health and global food security”, Dr Al Dhaheri said.

At first, charges will be introduced for plastic bags and other disposable items. This is a stepping stone to banning them totally in future, according to the announcement made on Monday night.

The policy was drafted in co-operation with other government bodies, companies and retailers, and the Department of Economic Development, the environment agency said.

A report published last year said that the use of plastics bags in the UAE is higher than global averages.

About 11 billion plastic bags are used in the UAE every year – an average of 1,184 a person.

This compares with a global use rate of 307 a person.

The tonnes of plastics entering the oceans every year is equal to dumping the contents of one rubbish lorry into the ocean every minute, the UN said.

Some retailers in the UAE have recently introduced charges for plastic bags, in response to a growing environmental awareness among the public.

These charges have generally been shown to significantly reduce use of such items.

Elsewhere in the world, bottle-return schemes have also proved a major success, helping to boost recycling rates.

 

Source: The National