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95% drop in single-use plastic bags in UAE

Wednesday, 07/06/2023

172 million single-use plastic grocery bags have been prevented from impacting the environment following the initiative.

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The Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced a 95 percent drop in the use of single-use plastic following the ban that was enacted last year. 172 million single-use plastic grocery bags have been prevented from impacting the environment.

The agency launched its comprehensive policy in 2020 to reduce the reliance on single-use plastic items in an effort toward sustainability and recycling in the emirate.

Prior to the implementation of the ban, major retail outlets including Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society, Spar, Chaithra’s, Spinneys, and Waitrose pledged to support the Abu Dhabi Single-Use Plastic Policy. Abu Dhabi to install reverse vending machines in major recycling push.

The retailers supported the move by offering alternatives and initiating a fee of AED0.50 for each reusable plastic bag. The implementation of the move has led to a drastic reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags.

Drastic reduction in single-use plastic bags

Dr. Sheikha Salem Al Dhahiri, Secretary General of the EAD, said, “In Abu Dhabi we have seen an unprecedented reduction in single-use plastic bags since the implementation of the ban just one year ago. To date we can safely say that we have prevented 172 million single-use plastic bags from entering and harming the environment. We could not have done this without the unconditional support of the retailers who acted quickly in implementing the ban.”

“They have recorded remarkable figures reaching more than 95 percent reduction in the number of plastic bags at the cash counters of some of the major retailers. This reduction in the number of bags and the increase in demand for reusable bags resulted in an overall reduction of the weight of plastic consumed by 77 percent. To put this into context, this is the equivalent to a reduction of more than 1000 tons of plastic bags that were eliminated in just one year,” she added.

“By reducing the amount of single-use plastic bags from negatively affecting the environment we are able to protect our terrestrial and marine biodiversity so that the future generations have a healthy environment sustaining them going forward”. The carbon footprint of the quantity of plastic eliminated is equivalent to 272,000 tons of CO2 equivalent which translates into saving emission from 629,000 barrels during the past year,” Al Dhahiri explained.

What are the alternatives to single-use plastic bags?

Paper, reusable plastic totes and cloth bags are some of the alternatives that will be available in stores, either for free or a charge.

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  1. Recycling paper bags:  paper bags are made from trees and are biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable. If your city recycles paper bags, you can place them in your recycling bin if they are clean (not soiled with oils or grease). However, each city or municipality has different recycling capabilities, so review their guidelines on paper bags.

  2. Recycling cotton totes: If the bag is made from organic cotton and plant-based inks and dyes, you’ll be able to compost it. This is a natural process where organic materials turn back into raw organic matter over the course of several months. Sometimes, it involves the help of wiggly creatures like worms. It’s also one of the best disposal methods, since it’s zero waste.  To determine where you can send your compostable waste, use resources like Litter less to find composting facilities near you. You can also donate your cotton totes to local shelters or Goodwill storefronts. If your cotton totes are beyond reuse, you can use a service like Retriever, which will properly recycle cotton materials for you.

  3. Recycling reusable plastic bags: Some plastic bags are made to be reused. Many are thicker with wider handles to hold more weight. Others are made from polyester and might feel like satin or cotton fabric. Some reusable plastic bags are even sustainable products made from recycled ocean plastics. Since these reusable bags for the environment are made from plastic, make sure to research whether they can be placed into your recycling bin. Not every city in the U.S. has recycling machinery that can properly handle upcycled plastic. If your city does not accept any type of plastic bag in the curbside recycling program, visit your local grocery store to see if they’ll take back and recycle reusable plastic bags. Or use tools like Plastic Film Recycling to access a directory of locations that accept reusable plastic bags.




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