Everything you need to know about Abu Dhabi’s ban on single-use plastic bags

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Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Abu Dhabi will ban the circulation of single-use plastic bags from June 1 in a move that will have long-term benefit on the environment and the region.

The authorities said starting from Wednesday, retail outlets will collect a minimum of 50 fils from the public on each of the alternative multi-use shopping bags.

Exempted from the ban will be bags of vegetables, fruits, meat, chicken and fish as well as waste bags, flower, plant and grain bags, mail bags and bags used in laundries and pharmacies.

The banned single-use bags are less than 50 microns thick and are currently used on cashier’s desks in outlets, the agency said, adding that outlets have replaced these bags with thicker ones that can be used at least 4 to 10 times.

The ban aims to:

—Encourage the use of reusable products

— To promote sustainable life

— To promote marine biodiversity

Plastic bags are exempt from the ban:

— Waste bags

— Bags of vegetables, meat and bread

— Large shopping bags for fashion or electronic gadgets and toys

— Letter bags for magazines and newspapers

— Plants and flowers transport bags

— Laundry cleaning bags

The Abu Dhabi Environment authority conducted a comprehensive study of the requirements for launching a system for the return of single-use plastic water bottles in return for incentives and rewards.

The Abu Dhabi Environment body is working on developing measures to reduce demand and raise the efficiency of consumption of about 16 single-use plastic products.

It is noteworthy that according to a report presented at the World Government Summit in February 2019, the UAE consumes 11 billion plastic bags annually, which is equivalent to 1,184 bags per capita, compared to the global average of 307 bags.

How much plastic does the world produce?

Global plastic production almost doubled between 2000 and 2019, from 234 million tonnes to 460 million tonnes, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Plastic waste more than doubled in that time, reaching 353 million tonnes in 2019.

But global production fell slightly in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic for only the third time in the history of modern industry, according to trade association Plastics Europe.

The OECD said 22 million tonnes of plastic were discarded in the environment in 2019 alone, with six million tonnes ending up in waterways, lakes and oceans.

Plastic makes up at least 85 per cent of total marine waste, according to the UN Environment Assembly.

The sheer volume of plastic produced annually would weigh as much as 45,500 Eiffel Towers, according to OECD calculations, and annual plastic waste would equal the weight of 35,000 Eiffel Towers.

Where is plastic produced?

More than half of the plastic came from Asia in 2020, with China representing almost one-third of the global total.

Plastic production in the world’s second-largest economy jumped by 82 per cent between 2010 and 2020, well above the global growth average of 30 percent, according to a Plastics Europe report.

Europe’s production in 2020 was 55 million tonnes, a five-per cent fall on 2019 levels.

What about the future?

A 2021 report by the World Wildlife Fund estimated that global plastic production would double by 2040.

IFP (French Institute of Petroleum) New Energies, a Paris-based public research organisation, has predicted that production will reach a billion tonnes per year around 2050.

Industry leaders have rejected the figures.

Recycling is the main solution to halt the relentless march of plastic production.

Although Europe recycles more than one-third of its plastic waste, globally only around nine per cent of plastic waste was recycled in 2019, according to the OECD.

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