A group of senior executives from major retail outlets in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi recently signed a voluntary declaration, committing them to support the implementation of the Abu Dhabi Single-Use Plastic Policy.
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) launched the policy in March 2020, which, along with subsequent regulations, will help the Emirate's marine and land environment remain free from single-use plastic waste.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, and Ahmed Tarish Al Qubaisi, Director of Control and Inspection Department from Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), were present at Al Mamoura Building to witness the signing of the declaration by executives from major retail outlets in Abu Dhabi.
The brands included Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society and Spar, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Choithrams, Spinneys and Waitrose. The signatories expressed their commitment in not only implementing the policy, but also collecting fees on reusable bags in a bid to reduce their consumption.
The signing of the declaration supports efforts made by EAD to implement the integrated single-use plastics policy and will help achieve the UAE government's vision of promoting sustainable living. The policy includes a gradual reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic products across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and promotes the use of reusable products.
According to the latest announcement by EAD, single-use plastic bags will be banned in Abu Dhabi as of 1st June, 2022.
The announcement recognises the effects related to single-use plastic waste on marine, wild species and birds that perish due to the presence of plastic materials. Furthermore, the human food chain is affected due to the entry of plastic particles, leading to accompanying health effects.
Al Dhaheri said, "The amount of single-use plastic constitutes 36% of the global plastic production total, which is around 400 million tons annually. In the UAE, for example, 11 billion plastic bags are consumed annually (according to a report presented at the World Government Summit in February 2019). This is equivalent to 1,182 plastic bags per person annually. This is considered a very high rate compared to the global average of 307 bags per person annually."
She further stressed that the declaration is in line with the Abu Dhabi Government's vision and its endeavours to promote the responsible use of plastic, while transitioning to more sustainable alternatives. Based on this direction, EAD calls on all other retail outlets to join this pledge to better promote sustainable development and protect the environment in Abu Dhabi.
According to the declaration, the signatories have committed to cooperate, secure alternatives, resources, and financing to support environmental protection. This is in addition to reducing the amount of single-use plastic materials in their outlets in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and to raise awareness to encourage and accelerate the shift in consumer behaviour towards reducing dependence on the consumption of single-use plastic materials.
The signatories confirmed their commitment to implement the Abu Dhabi Government ban on single-use plastic bags, and to charge customers a fee for each reusable plastic grocery bag.
The signatories also committed to using collected fees to implement sustainable initiatives and publish reports on how these funds are spent. This is in addition to contributing to the government's efforts – represented by EAD – in raising awareness related to reducing reliance on single-use plastic products.