A new drinking water refill station at West Beach under the Dubai Can drive Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: UAE residents and businesses have welcomed the new ‘Dubai Can’ initiative to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste, launched on Tuesday by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

Dubai Can aims to motivate communities across the city to undertake simple changes such as using refillable water bottles at public water stations and installing water filters in their homes, offices and schools.

According to Emirates Nature WWF1, the average person in the UAE consumes 94kg of plastic per year, of which a significant amount comprises single- use bottles. Plastic waste has a devastating effect on marine mammals and sea birds and impacts local populations of dolphins, sea turtles and birdlife.

Sustainability as a lifestyle

Natascha Seker

French expat Natascha Seker, 37, said she is determined to reduce her single-use plastic consumption as far as possible. “This is something that has been part of me since I was a child,” she said.

Seker, who arrived in Dubai four months ago, said she has always been eco-conscious. “The Dubai Can initiative definitely falls in line with my personal preferences to lead a sustainable life.”

Seker has opted to fit a filter in her home to dispense drinking water, rather than buying cans. “My family and I carry water in recyclable bottles when we go out so we can refill anytime. My children, aged eight and five, carry a bottle each. I am trying to instil sustainable values in children right from the start,” she added.

The French expat added that she goes every weekend to Mamzar beach to clean up plastic bottles. “I hope more awareness is raised on this,” she added.

Robert Webling

South African expat Robert Webling, 47, said his children carry recyclable water bottles to school. “On our part as parents, we are doing a lot to ensure sustainable values in our children. But we also need to see the practicality of it all.”

Renuka Krishnan

Indian expat Renuka Krishnan, a ‘Posture Alignment Educator’, said when she moved to Dubai seven years ago, she noticed an “incessant” use of plastic in the city. “Coming from New Zealand, I wanted to bring my eco-friendly lifestyle habits to Dubai. As a first, we as a family bought a water filter at home in order to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bottles. Since then, we have never used plastic bottles for water at home,” she added.

Krishnan said: “Furthermore, we always carry reusable stainless steel bottles with us whenever we step outside the house. When we dine out at restaurants, we actively avoid using single-use plastic water bottles and instead always carry our water bottles. It would be amazing to see more water filling points in local parks and communities, such as those at Expo.”

Going plastic-bottle-free

The First Group said they have gone plastic-bottle-free. The move will reduce their plastic waste of over 1.25 million bottles a year.

David Thomson

David Thomson, vice president of Hotels at The First Group, said: “Dubai Can is a remarkable initiative that will have a hugely beneficial impact on the environment and will make people reconsider their water consumption habits. The First Group recognises the effect the hotel’s operations can have on the environment and we’ve made great strides to make eco-friendly accommodation more viable. All our properties are now PET plastic-bottle-free, which will save a massive 1.25 million plastic bottles ending up in waste every year.”

Shahid Khan

Pakistani expat Shahid Khan, project manager at Ahsant Premium Hotel Supplies, said he is very happy with the initiative to reduce plastic consumption. As a company that supplies products to hotels, Ahsant stopped selling single-use plastic bottles to the luxury hotel industry. Instead, they have focused their energies in promoting large sustainable liquid bottles. At least 2,000 of these large bottles are used by hotel properties.

Luchie Suguitan

Luchie Suguitan, Co-founder of Co Chocolat, said: “People sometimes ask us, ‘why not use plastic containers for your products’, and our answer is that people tend not to reuse it, unlike glass and wood. Our hot chocolate packed in mason jars get people’s hearts because they are not only cute but also you can use them as actual drinking glasses later on.”