Image Credit: Shutterstock

From today, you no longer can use those single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi. The absolutely timely decision is part of the emirate’s broader environmental initiative that includes cutting down the overall use of plastics to ensure an eco-friendly future.

Abu Dhabi’s integrated single-use plastic policy, which was first brought in 2020, aims to “reduce pollution and promote sustainability”. The thinking behind this mega initiative is that our fragile environment is chocking and needs an immediate and bold intervention. (Almost 300 million tonnes of plastic pollution is created each year globally, per figures by the United Nations’ Environment Programme).

Only nine per cent of all plastic waste ever ends up being recycled with the rest finding its way to dumps, landfills and other natural environments. And plastic bags is one of the biggest pollution culprits. These are non-biodegradable — they litter our environment, pollute oceans, rivers, farmlands, cities, and neighbourhoods. Banning them will go a long way in giving our mother earth a break.

The move is timely too. Abu Dhabi is set to host the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023, when more than 200 countries are set to gather to hopefully take concerted action to cap global greenhouse gas emissions and unite against climate change and global warming.

With the latest initiative, Abu Dhabi becomes the first in the region to introduce an integrated, single-use plastic policy. This is expected to be followed by additional measures for a greener future.

In the run up to the move, authorities in the emirate have worked with businesses to facilitate a smooth transition.

Close on the heels, Dubai will introduce a charge of 25 fils for single-use plastic bags beginning July 1, with the aim of completely banning plastic bags in two years’ time. The move comes “to limit single-use bags to enhance environmental sustainability,” the Dubai Executive Council previously tweeted.

The movement against single-use plastic is global. Tariffs on the use of plastic bags are in place in more than 30 countries globally, with nearly 90 nations opting for either total or partial ban.

UAE policymakers are confident that the latest ban will go a long way in decreasing the use of plastic, which makes its way into the environment.

It presents an excellent opportunity to end users — consumers — to shift to more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Already stores and malls are transitioning to affordable alternatives.

Together we can hope for a plastic-free, green world. And the time to act is now.