ABU DHABI - The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced the ban on a series of Styrofoam products in the emirate effective from 1st June 2024. This is part of EAD's "Single-Use Plastic Policy", which was launched in 2020.

Styrofoam is a type of plastic called expanded polystyrene, and it has a range of uses. As part of the ban, Abu Dhabi is targeting avoidable, single-use consumer products.

Specifically, the banned products comprise cups, lids, plates and beverage containers (including caps and lids) made of expanded polystyrene. In addition, food container receptacles for products that are intended for immediate consumption, either on the spot or for takeaway, or containers that have a product that is typically consumed from the receptacle and is ready to be consumed without any further preparation such as cooking, boiling or heating, will also be prohibited.

The products that will be exempt from the ban include those not designed for single consumer use such as big storage boxes and coolers and trays used for meat, fruit, ready-made dairy products and other food items for retail sale. All other products designed for medical uses are also exempted.

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD Secretary-General, said the move will help reduce litter in the environment. Styrofoam, in particular, breaks easily into microplastics that can enter the food chain and be harmful to human health and biodiversity.

"We are striving to make life easy for consumers while maintaining the balance of conserving the environment at the same time; therefore, for the ban, we have only selected items that are avoidable single-use plastics and have clear and sustainable alternatives. We will also provide support to government and private sector entities to facilitate the shift towards reusable solutions."

She added that the success of the Abu Dhabi Single-Use Plastic Policy is that the consumption of 310 million single-use plastic bags has been avoided up to April 2024, and the number of bags distributed at retailers' cash counters has reduced by up to 95 percent. In weight, this is more than 2,000 tonnes of single-use plastic bags have been avoided. Similarly, more than 1,000 tonnes of bottles, equivalent to 67 million bottles, have been collected last year.

Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), reaffirmed ADDED's commitment to supporting environment-friendly strategies to ensure providing the best possible conditions for doing business and preserving the environment.

He highlighted the significant role played by ADDED in raising awareness among commercial outlets and industrial facilities in the emirate to comply with the policy and enable the private sector's transition to environment-friendly alternatives.

ADDED has shared the circular on Styrofoam ban with more than 50,000 commercial establishments and 80 industrial facilities involved in plastic manufacturing.

It also launched an awareness programme, in coordination with EAD, targeting commercial and industrial establishments. The programme aimed to introduce the ban policy and present the targeted Styrofoam products.

ADDED is set to conduct field inspection campaigns on sales outlets and industrial establishments to ensure the implementation of the ban across Abu Dhabi starting from 1st June 2024.