Manufacturers of plastic bags have been given a deadline to register their products as biodegradable by the end of the year. This measure, long in the works, is to be welcomed. Plastic bags take generations to degrade and every year we use millions of them. The vast majority of plastic bags are used but once, then sent to the landfill.

Clearly, this is a waste of precious resources and harms our environment.

By making the mandatory switch to biodegradable bags, we are saving our environment.

We all must cut down on our use of plastics. Whereever possible, we should look at using cloth bags for groceries and shopping. Indeed, food and retail stores are actively encouraging us to use reusable bags. The UAE has set a goal of 2013 to rid us of plastic bags and already, nearly half of the plastic bags used in stores are biodegradable. The recent announcement will force all manufacturers to be environmentally friendly and responsible by the end of the year.

But this is but one facet of improving our environment. We must ensure that recycling programmes are readily accessible for all, whether living in villas or apartments, and these programmes should be widespread.