By Gavin Gibbon
New policy targets plastic bags, beverage cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers and food containers
Abu Dhabi is to ban single-use plastic bags by 2021.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi announced the policy which it says will be achieved by recycling and reusing and encouraging more sustainable practices.
Under new legislation to be introduced, incentives will be offered to target consumption of single-use plastic bags, followed by fees on some materials which have available alternatives to stop the distribution of plastic bags for free – and, ultimately, an overall ban.
A total of 16 of the most common single-use plastics have been identified, which cause the greatest amount of marine waste and will be targeted to varying degrees.
This includes plastic bags, beverage cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers and food containers. Plastic bottles will be targeted through the introduction of a plastic bottle return deposit scheme.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary general, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, said: "The launch of the single-use plastics policy reflects our steadfast commitment towards transitioning to a more sustainable economy that seeks to minimise waste and protect vital ecosystems in our environment.
"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 materials by 2021.”
The policy is supported by Emirates Nature WWF and 12 other government entities, including the Department of Economic Development.
Six major outlets and a number of private sector entities producing plastic materials are also involved.
Dr. Al Dhaheri added: “If we do not take bold steps to contain the use of single-use plastics through influencing behaviour 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.”
In the UAE, 11 billion plastic bags are consumed annually, according to a report presented in The World Government Summit in February 2019, which is the equivalent of 1,184 plastic bags per person per year compared to a global average of 307 plastic bags per person per year.