The UAE consumed 11 million plastic bags last year with nearly half of it being biodegradable, the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) revealed as it launched the third phase of ‘UAE free of plastic bags’ campaign.
Currently, about 46.7 per cent of the total plastic bags used in the country are biodegradable and drastic improvement from the 2008 figure of 7.3 per cent.
However, with just 18 months left to meet the 2013 deadline of freeing the UAE of all plastic bags, MoEW is racing against time to replace more than half of the plastic bags currently used with the biodegradable ones.
Launched at the national level, the drive is looking to educate people about the ill effects of plastic bags, and inform them about alternatives, Arabic daily Al Ittihad reported.
With the success of the first two phases which targeted manufacturers and suppliers, reflecting in the increasing percentage of biodegradable plastic bags in the market, the campaign now aims to target the other end of the market.
Mariam Al Chenasi, Acting Undersecretary of MoEW informed that the third phase would last until the end of this year.
She said that the drive aims to target certain sections of the society known for excessive use of plastic bags.
“We aim to rationalise and reduce consumption by taking a few steps and implementing certain measures. We are focusing particularly on the material being used in certain sectors and would push for biodegradable bags that are thinner,” she added.
As part of the campaign, the ministry is setting up special centers to collect plastic bags for recycling at all the major department stores and supermarkets.
The campaign is also targeting supermarkets to reduce usage of plastic bags as well as educating consumers to reuse.
The campaign is also taking steps to make sure manufacturers and importers are adhering to the new norms.
The new regulations demand that all the manufacturers and importers of plastic should register with the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA).
Any facility dealing with plastic could operate only after the due approval from ESMA.