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Gulf Today Report
Following New York’s plastic reduction mandate earlier this March, Abu Dhabi is next in line and the first in the Arab region to ban single-use plastic items and implement reusable alternatives for the betterment of the ecosystem by 2021, announced the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).
The unprecedented policy plans to curtail plastic consumption habits among the common public and redirect them to sustainable materials that would considerably reduce plastic waste in the oceans.
It is through the new eco-conscious regulation that the EAD hopes to instill sustainable practices in the community for posterity.
The UAE is a consumer of 11 billion plastic bags per annum, and each person uses an estimated 1,184 bags – triple the global average rate.
With the year 2021 marking the emirate’s putative plastic deadline, the scheme contributes substantially to the Dhs50 billion Abu Dhabi Development Accelerator Programme called 'Ghadan 21,' which aims for an overall economic, cultural and aesthetic boost for the capital by next year.
EAD’s policy is to be meted out in gradual phases over the next two years to ensure thorough execution by initially targeting plastic bags, then levying a fee on single-use plastic and non-plastic items that have existing viable alternatives to eventually banning all single-use plastic in the region.
As part of Ghadan 21’s community investment plan, Abu Dhabi will offer reusable bags, typically fashioned out of cloth, paper or other sustainable fabrics elsewhere, to keep the public from switching to single-use non-plastic items.
Plastic bottle depositories will be available in retail outlets where consumers can ‘return’ their bottles for recycling. Scientific studies have pointed out the most common single-use plastics that disrupt marine life besides plastic bottles include bags, disposable cutlery, straws, cups and lids, and so on, the consumption of which the emirate intends to target.
The Abu Dhabi Media Office stated that the comprehensive policy was developed in collaboration with 12 government entities and the private sector, backed by a survey of 2,700 consumers used to gauge public sentiment on plastic reduction.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD’s Secretary General, said the policy was developed in line with international standards as Abu Dhabi is to join more than 127 countries whose plastic waste policies have been long implemented.
She urged the public to scan their surroundings and observe the permanent harm plastic use inflicts upon nature, stating that 13 million tonnes of the material ends up in oceans annually, endangering sea turtles, fish, seabirds and other marine life as well as contaminating ocean health.
"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 - creating lasting impacts on, not just ocean health, but ultimately human health and global food security."
The country generates around four million tonnes of plastic waste per year, about a third of which is not recycled and ends up in waterways and landfills that regularly catch fire and exacerbate air pollution.
Through the implementation of the region’s first integrated policy, the Agency plans to gradually reduce the amount of single-use plastic products consumed across Abu Dhabi, and encourage the use of reusable products.
The ban on the use of single-use plastic bags in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will take effect from Wednesday based on the integrated policy that the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi launched in 2020 to curb the use of these bags.
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