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Speakers during a press conference to launch 'Rebound Plastic Exchange' programme in Abu Dhabi on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has launched a global digital trading platform for recycled plastics as part of the solution to reduce plastic pollution.

By 2025, Rebound Plastic Exchange hopes to facilitate the trade of five million tonnes of recycled plastic, its chief executive officer, Maryam Al Mansoori, told Gulf News following the official launch of the platform in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The launch of the company follows a concerted effort across the UAE to combat plastic consumption and pollution. Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags in the emirate, and Dubai imposed a 25-fill tariff on single-use plastic bags. Ajman is meanwhile set to ban single-use plastic bags from in 2023, and Sharjah in 2024.

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Plastic waste

“Plastic pollution is today a visible environmental threat, and we aim to be part of the solution to plastic pollution. Plastic itself is a versatile and useful material, and the problem arises [when we cannot manage] its waste, leading to leakage and pollution. It is telling that there is predicted to be more plastic in the sea by 2050 than fish,” Al Mansoori said.

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Maryam Al Mansoori, CEO, Rebound Plastic Exchange, addressing the gathering Image Credit: Supplied

Innovative uses

“[With that being said,] plastic is today used in a variety of innovative ways, with companies in Germany and Norway crafting furniture out of recycled plastic. Because of the fragmentation in the market till date, there has not been a global circularity of the market, and sellers often do not know where they can get quality recycled plastic. This is the gap we want to bridge,” Al Mansoori said.

With the world plastics market forecast to reach $46.6 billion (171.1 billion) by 2025, Rebound expects to become a trusted global link between buyers and sellers of recycled plastic.

Following its official launch last month, the entity has seen traders from six different regions, including some from the UAE. Sellers have been using the recycled plastic to manufacture t-shirts, as well as food-grade plastic products like bottles. Al Mansoori said some are also working with bigger brands for packaging needs.

The company is a subsidiary of leading Abu Dhabi holding company, the International Holding Company, and is supported by the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Closing the carbon cycle

Al Mansoori, who has a background as an Emirati civil servant, said the idea for the platform was born out of concerns regarding plastic accumulation, and analysis that showed a gap between producers and buyers of recycled plastic. The fact that Rebound also performs quality assurance for the products it lists also helps enhance the buyers’ trust.

“We need to close the carbon cycle again by seeking the circularity of goods and even services that depend on fossil fuels or their substitutes. Plastic products and the pollution they cause must be addressed from a life cycle perspective, also taking on the inescapable responsibility of healing damaged ecosystems and species. Rebound’s digital solution is an example of how to effectively accelerate the implementation of a global circular economy and international development through sustainable trade,” said Dr Rodolfo Lacy, director for climate action and environment for Latin America and Special Envoy to the United Nations from the OECD.

At the official launch, Al Mansoori also demonstrated the exchange interface, including the kind of information included by traders.

“After being sorted and cleaned, plastic can be shredded into flakes, or melted to form pellets that can be made intro new products. Polymer analysts and chemists working with Rebound help ensure the quality of these materials,” she said. The world produces nearly 400 million tonnes of plastic each year, and experts highlighted at the Rebound launch the urgent need to ensure reuse.