Abu Dhabi / WAM
Abu Dhabi aims to substantially reduce its consumption of single-use plastic by 2021, a top official told the Emirates News Agency (WAM), on Tuesday.
“We will have the draft policy on single-use plastic by early 2020. We are actually aiming to have a phenomenal reduction of consumption of single-use plastic by 2021,” said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), without providing specific figures.
“We are not only joining a global effort to reduce the impact of single-use material, but we also want to demonstrate leadership, as a government and as an emirate, as responsible producers and consumers of plastics,” she stressed.
The policy will include an implementation plan and the needed instruments and incentives to be implemented by 2021, she said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual UAE Government Meetings in Abu Dhabi.
Single-use plastics are used once before they are thrown away or recycled. Plastics discarded in nature as waste affect human health and environment, however, their real danger lies in being resistant to microbial degradation as well as containing dioxin compounds that can cause cancer.
The United Nations has called for global action to beat plastic pollution, saying that 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced every year, 36 percent of which are intended for single-use.
Al Dhaheri said people and businesses will get almost one year to get prepared before the measures are implemented and single-use items with clear alternatives are replaced with sustainable reusable products.
“Items like bags, bottles and cutlery will be targeted by the policy through various measures to reduce their consumption and ensure recovery for recycling,” she explained.
“Definitely we are taking its social and economic impact into consideration. Not only the consumers but private sector businesses also will get time to change their production line and use alternatives to single-use plastic.”
The EAD will make sure reusable alternatives are available in the market, the official said. “We will ensure that people do not choose alternatives that are more harmful than single-use plastic.”
She also said that EAD has looked into the studies conducted in the US, Europe and some neighbouring countries about their experiences of eradicating single-use plastic. “In some places … more harmful alternatives replaced single-use plastic. Alternatives should be in supporting multiple-use items and not shifting towards single-use non-plastic items.”
The EAD will conduct awareness campaigns for consumers and businesses to make the mission of reducing the consumption of single-use plastic a success.
“We conducted a survey among the public early this year and 80 percent of the respondents favoured the eradication of single-use plastic bags while 99 percent considered single-use plastic a priority issue to address,” Al Dhaheri revealed.