A number of UAE entities and consumers are now driving this transition from concept to reality.
Did you know that 36 per cent of the global production of single-use plastics are not recycled and globally over 400 million tonnes of different types of plastics are produced every year.
Studies have shown that if we do not slow down now, then with the high consumption rates and low recycling operations, it is expected that by 2050 with every three tonnes of fish in the ocean, there will be one tonne of plastic!
The world is waking up to a global crisis created by what was once dubbed a ‘miracle product’ – plastic. While countries are now taking concerted actions to reverse the plastic trend, the UAE has also been doing its bit to reduce plastic waste.
One way to tackle the plastic problem would be to collectively rethink the way we make, use and dispose of plastics. A number of UAE entities and consumers are now driving this transition from concept to reality.
Realising the enormity of the plastic problem, the most recent measures taken by the UAE to turn the plastic tide was the announcement by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) to phase out single-use plastic from the Capital by 2021. The EAD on Monday announced a comprehensive policy to eliminate single-use plastics in the emirate by 2021 and encouraged residents to opt for greener, sustainable options instead. The authority aims to levy fees on the targeted items initially before gradually banning them.
These include plastic bags, beverage cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers. Plastic bottles will be targeted through the introduction of a bottle-return scheme supported with incentives.
With plastic waste being one of the biggest threats to global pollution, the UAE’s initial steps began in Dubai with the world’s busiest international airport, Dubai International Airport (DXB), going plastic-free from January 2020.
Dubai’s two airports, DXB and Dubai World Central Airport (DWC), which produced around 5,500 tonnes of single-use plastic every year, have now phased out tens of thousands of plastic items.
Since the pledge was announced in June 2019, Dubai Airports said it had been working closely with more than 250 of its partners to fulfil the promise by the beginning of this year.
Eugene Barry, exectutive vice-president, commercial at Dubai Airports, said:
“This pledge is another step on a long journey to becoming a more environmentally responsible airport. Along with our partners, including global brands such as McDonalds, Costa Coffee and Starbucks, we are committed to not only removing single-use plastics but also providing appropriate and importantly sustainable alternatives.”
The multi-phased approach started with plastic cutlery, straws, take-away food packaging and polythene bags being removed from cafs, restaurants and shops from January 1, 2020. During the next 12 months, additional products will be replaced both in customer spaces and behind the scenes.
Barry said: “The biggest challenge is sourcing alternatives for plastic bottles, one of the most frequently used and discarded pieces of single-use plastics. As we work to reduce and ultimately eliminate plastics from our airports, we are increasing our recycling facilities in the customer spaces and a new partnership that will allow us to properly dispose of thousands of tonnes of single-use plastic, each year.”
Pledging removal of single-use plastic from its 26 malls, 13 hotels, 46 Vox cinemas and from 285 Carrefour stores in the Middle East, Africa and Asia region, Majid Al Futtaim group also undertook the herculean task to phase-out single-use plastics across its operations by 2025. As part of the pledge, Carrefour stores would be taking 500 million plastic grocery bags out of circulation each year. The company is now focusing on promoting reusable, sustainable alternatives that drive long-term behavioural change among its customers, suppliers and partners.
Hani Weiss, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim – retail, said: “No one country, company or individual alone can solve the crippling impact that plastic is having on our world. At Majid Al Futtaim, we are committed to playing our part in positively impacting the environment, while trying to influence others to make similar commitments. By making hard choices and leading by example, we will start to see progress. Reducing our dependence on single-use plastic is only the start; we hope to create a movement among the partners, suppliers and customers we engage with every day to ensure collective action.”
The scope of the policy, the group said, includes single-use plastic items distributed to customers and does not include any on-shelf products typically sold at the company’s premises, such as garbage bags, detergent bottles and cleaning products. In 2017, Majid Al Futtaim started promoting reusable grocery bags across its markets, with this year’s sales of the eco-friendly bags increasing by 70 per cent.
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