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Abu Dhabi urges shoppers to stop using plastic bags

The government aims to phase out the use of plastic bags nationwide by 2013

  • A camel made of plastic bags to publicise the dangers posed by plastic bags to the environment
    A camel made of plastic bags to publicise the dangers posed by plastic bags to the environment. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
  • A camel made of plastic bags to publicise the dangers posed by plastic bags to the environment
    A camel made of plastic bags at one of the malls in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
11 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: About 25,000 eco-friendly shopping bags will be distributed through participating kiosks at shopping malls and 39 supermarkets in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain this weekend, from tomorrow to Saturday.

As part of the "Make UAE Plastic Bag Free" campaign there will be no non-biodegradable plastic bags at any of the 39 outlets of the five supermarkets during the "plastic bag-free weekend" declared by government agencies.

The government aims to phase out the use of plastic bags nationwide by 2013.

About 11.6 billion plastic bags equalling 140,000 tonnes are used in the country a year.

The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and major supermarkets and malls launched the campaign yesterday in the capital with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) and the Centre for Waste Management-Abu Dhabi (CWM-A). EAD's campaign aims to inform shoppers about the harmful effects of plastic bags.

During the plastic bag-free weekend, shoppers are urged to visit campaign kiosks at Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall, Khalidia Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and Al Wahda Mall and Al Jimi and Al Bawadi malls in Al Ain and pick up a free eco bag.

The Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Spinneys and Abela stores are taking part in the campaign.

On behalf of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, Dr Jaber Al Jaberi, Executive Director, Environment Operations Sector at EAD said: "According to the CWM-A, plastic makes up 19 per cent of domestic waste in Abu Dhabi City".

"Half the camel deaths each year in the UAE are due to camels ingesting plastic bags.

"Floating plastic bags also pose a threat to sea turtles and other biodiversity when they mistakenly swallow them for food," he said.

"Every time we reach for a plastic bag we need to stop and think about the effect it has on our natural heritage."

Factfile:

  • 11.6b - plastic bags used in the UAE every year
  • 140,000 - tonnes equal to 11.6b plastic bags
  • 25,000 - free eco bags to be given out this weekend
  • 39 - outlets in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain taking part

 New view: Customers receptive

Residents who did not care about plastic bags in the past are now willing to try eco-friendly options, retail chains said yesterday. "In the past ... they used to get annoyed. But today they are eager to listen to our advice, thanks to the awareness," said Abu Bakr T.P., General Manager, Lulu Hypermarkets. Colette Shannon, Marketing Manager, Spinneys, agreed.

Spinneys will charge 20 fils per biodegradable bag this weekend and donate proceeds to charity.

Will you be taking part in the "no plastic weekend" Campaign? Will you switch to reusable or biodegradable bags? What more can be done to help raise awareness about this issue?

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The banning of plastic bags may not be the salvation of the environment, but it could be a useful way to begin reducing waste pollution. These are one of the plastic products produced in the greater numbers, and one of the products most commonly dispersed in the environment. Plastics Bags are able to absorb high concentrations of the toxic substances in water, which can in turn be absorbed by living organisms. It is very imperative for us to educate each other and create an awareness as a lot of people are really careless . In our Daily Lives we come across many people throwing and wasting plastic bags. Plastic is not biodegradable, When buried plastic will choke the drainages and When burnt plastics will emit poisonous gases.To make plastic one has to use the petroleum products, plastic production and processing require the use of toxic chemicals. Many manufacturing plants that produce these chemicals also produce hazardous waste and pollute the air. The biggest problem with the plastic bags which are used for packing of milk, oil, salt etc they become big environmental problem. When we go for shopping the shop owners give plastic bag which is handy but which is destroying the environment. I still remember a few months back when I went for some Grocery shopping the Staff at the counter did not even have a clue of what a jute bag is . when I tried explaining she still could not understand and finally I had to speak to the Senior Manager who offered me with a jute bag. It's shocking for me to see plastic bags placed on top of the other in bulk. Plastic bags are light, sturdy and easy to carry. They are cheaper than paper. Plastics are reused in the home. We see so many beautiful and fashionable and colorful bags but how much these bags will harm environment many people do not aware.

Mathew Litty

23 February 2011 19:54jump to comments
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