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Sat 14 May 2011 03:22 PM

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UAE finalises green plan to ban plastic bags

Gov't official says all shopping bags in the UAE must be environmentally-friendly by 2013

UAE finalises green plan to ban plastic bags
The UAE has finalised plans to ban non-biodegradable shopping bags by 2013. (Getty Images)

The UAE has finalised plans to ban non-biodegradable shopping bags by 2013, an official said on Saturday.

Mohammad SalehBadri, acting director general, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), said: "All the plastic bags used in the UAE must be biodegradable from 2013 so all the supermarkets, shops and stores, plastic manufacturers and suppliers, and all the people using them should be made aware of this regulation and practice it."

Half the camel deaths each year in the UAE are due to camels ingesting plastic bags, according to a study by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

According to the ministry, nearly 12 billion plastic bags are used a year in the UAE.  In Abu Dhabi, plastic makes up 19 percent of domestic waste in the city.

The new regulations will require about 100 supplliers of oxo-biodegradable additives - ingredients that will enable plastic bags to degrade quickly - to be verified and approved by ESMA before they can deal with plastic manufacturers and traders.

The ESMA is currently talking with the providers of plastics and so far three have been approved by ESMA.

About 95 percent of the plastic bags used in UAE are manufactured in the country, the ESMA added.

The new rules aim to ensure that the process of degradation will not harm the people and environment, it said in a statement.

All plastics that are biodegradable will bear a "Mark of Conformity" or a logo that shows they meet the government standards.

Plastic bags pose a danger to the environment because some chemicals in the material are toxic and take thousands of years to break down.

The toxic substance enters the food chain by seeping into the soil during its breakdown process, and causes a threat to animals and birds.

Globally, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic and that up to 80 percent  of reported marine debris worldwide is plastic.

A UNEP study showed that plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.

The UAE launched a nationwide campaign in October 2009 to reduce non-biodegradable plastic bags in four phases. The final phase involves the actual move to reduce and prevent the manufacture of plastic bags by 2013.

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Maria 9 years ago