From June 1, Abu Dhabi will impose a ban on single-use plastic bags within the emirate as a means of achieving goals of environmental sustainability. The Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced the plans to gradually cut down on single-use plastic products and instead, lean more toward reusable products. Slowly but surely, the emirate aims to reduce the usage of 16 single-use plastic products including cups and cutlery. The EAD also envisions ruling out single-use styrofoam cups, plates, and food containers by 2024 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UAE NetZero 2050 plan.
“As part of our plan to completely curb the use of single-use plastics, we are encouraging Abu Dhabi citizens to use more multipurpose and re-usable materials to reduce their environmental footprint,” says EAD’s secretary-general Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri, adding that the ban has been put in motion due to the “harmful impacts on the environment and biodiversity.”
The first in the region to introduce the policy, Abu Dhabi’s plans follow initiatives that were taken in 2020, but put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After two years, the EAD is ready to place the policy in effect by organizing awareness campaigns and speaking to plastic retailers and producers to set the ban in stone. Stores and shoppers will be encouraged to use reusable bags such as canvas totes or keychain bags.
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Dubai has also followed in its footsteps by introducing a tariff of 25 fils for single-use plastic bags starting July 1. The charge announced in February this year will be inclusive of retail, clothing, restaurants and pharmacies, as well as imposed on delivery orders and e-commerce orders. The emirate has also launched its ‘Dubai Can’ initiative under the direction of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, which aims to lessen the use of single-use plastic bottles. Rather than buying water bottles, people in the city are encouraged to refill their own bottles in installed water stations at home and at work.
More than 30 countries have implemented such bag tariffs, with more than 90 countries setting initiatives for partial or complete bans. These changes come with dread in tow, given the fact that the United Nations has estimated that if the current usage of single-use plastic remains as is, oceans will possibly become more plastic waste than fish by 2050.