Abu Dhabi: How ban on single-use plastic bags changed residents’ habits

Residents take their own bags along, urge others to curb use of other disposable plastics

Abu Dhabi: A year-long ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi has made for a definite shift in the public consciousness, with residents today much more aware of their plastic footprint.

Apart from carrying their own fabric totes and multiple-use bags when shopping, residents have become more vigilant of the other disposable plastic items they opt for.

Abu Dhabi regulation

The ban on single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi came into effect on June 1, 2022.

The emirate’s environment sector regulator, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), worked with major retailers to immediately ban the distribution of single-use bags at checkout counters, and to popularise reusable plastic, paper and fabric bags.

To drive home the cost of plastic use, the EAD also implemented a 50-fil tariff on each multiple-use plastic bag taken by customers upon checkout.

The regulation ushered in a series of sustainable changes. For one, retailers and stores switched to offering multiple-use bags for customers, with most opting for non-plastic materials for their bags. The 50-fil tariff also drove home the cost of plastic use for residents.

Sustainability makes sense

Once the rule came into effect, it assigned a cost on the number of plastic bags we used. It no longer made sense to be wasteful, and we found ourselves becoming more mindful of just how much plastic we were consuming,” Sharifa Alblooshi, 32,“ an Emirati human resources manager, told Gulf News.

Alblooshi said while her family did initially forget to take their own bags when shopping, it soon became a habit.

“We began to keep some extra bags in the car, and when we forgot to take some with us, we would simply take our groceries to the car in a shopping cart, and then unload them at home one by one,” she said.

Wider impacts

These wider effects on the community will ease the additional control on single-use plastics that will come into effect in January 2024 as part of the Abu Dhabi Single Use Plastics Policy. In addition to single-use plastic bags, the policy will ban the distribution of other single-use plastic items, including cutlery, cups, straws, and lids in Abu Dhabi emirate.

Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman have since rolled out tariffs on single-use plastic bags as well. The UAE will go on to launch a nationwide ban on these disposable bags from January 2024, and ban the use of other single-use plastic items from January 2026 onwards.

The moves follow the country’s concerted focus on sustainability and climate action, after the UAE was reported at the 2019 World Government Summit to be using plastic bags at nearly four times the global average.

In addition to plastic bags, Abu Dhabi is now working to encourage greater recycling of plastic water bottles.

Read the full story: Gulf News

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