Daily Reduction of Half a Million Single-Use Plastic Bags Since June 1

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The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) has said that a lot of progress has been made toward the emirate's goal of reducing the number of single-use plastic products.

Since June, when the ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect in Abu Dhabi, a team of inspectors from EAD, the Department of Economic Development, and the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority has been checking sales outlets in Abu Dhabi together.

The Abu Dhabi Media Office said that the tours are meant to make sure that the ban is being followed and to teach stores how important it is to replace single-use bags with reusable ones that meet the technical standards set by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council.

These inspections showed a very high compliance rate with the ban and the use of approved alternatives.

Information collected from retail outlets indicates that since the beginning of the ban, the number of single-use plastic shopping bags has dropped by more than 90 per cent, resulting in a daily reduction of half a million bags since June 1. This amounts to more than 87 million bags to date and counting.

More than 80 per cent of outlets are committed to levying voluntary fees, including the main retail outlets in Abu Dhabi, which have signed a voluntary declaration to support the ban and to secure alternatives, resources, and financing to support environmental protection and reduce the number of plastic materials sold across Abu Dhabi outlets. In line with their promise, the stores charge for each alternative, reusable plastic shopping bag. The goal is to avoid using bags as much as possible and only use them when necessary.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary general of EAD, said: “The Single-Use Plastic Policy in Abu Dhabi addresses the issue of plastic pollutants that leak into the environment and cause damage. We are exploring the use of sustainable solutions to solve this challenge in a manner that fully supports the government’s long-term vision for a greener future.”

She added: “By reducing the consumption of single-use plastics, the policy will also reduce emissions in line with the UAE’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, the achievement of the policy’s objectives will also help the waste sector divert 80 per cent of municipal solid waste in Abu Dhabi away from landfills.”

In this situation, EAD is always holding awareness sessions for government agencies and private companies and giving them tools that help them make plans for putting the policy into action.

The agency succeeded in circulating a guide, which is available in both Arabic and English, titled: ‘Becoming Free of Single-Use Products: A Guide for Abu Dhabi Government’ to all government agencies, reaching more than 3,000 government employees who were included in the introductory sessions.

Moreover, 15 awareness sessions were organised, targeting different categories of youth and public and private sector institutions, as well as the industrial and commercial sectors, with the total number of participants reaching 3,550 people. In addition, 25 awareness materials were developed and shared about the Mission to Zero campaign with schools and EAD partners, including retailers, online stores, and delivery platforms.

Additionally, seven actions were added to EAD’s BAADR application, which was recently launched by the agency as a free, environmentally friendly smartphone app, designed to change the environmental behaviour of Abu Dhabi residents, both citizens and residents, and motivate them to lead in the process of positive transformation.

The agency also focused its efforts on partnerships with more than 30 private and public entities to develop a recovery system based on catalysts that contribute to collecting and recovering about 8,000 tonnes of plastic bottles over the next five years, which will go directly to the emirate’s recycling sector.

One of the main goals of the policy and its tools is to reduce the damage that single-use plastic waste does to the environment by reducing how much of these materials are used. In 2022, more than 30 million plastic bottles were recovered, compared to 7.25 million bottles in 2021, and more than 10 tonnes were collected weekly, which is approximately 850,000 bottles per week.

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Source: Gulf Business

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