Ministry talks are underway to set more regulations for plastic waste
8 July 2019| Last updated on 21 January 2020
A mandatory fee for using plastic shopping bags might soon be introduced across the country...
Fact: Plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade, and some can take as much as 1000 years. Continuous use of plastics has led to environmental degradation. For example, the toxic substances from plastics leak into the oceans and are consumed by aquatic life like fish - which in turn we humans eat. Every year, thousands of sea turtles and other animals choke on plastic wastes thrown into nature.
Some businesses in the UAE such as Waitrose have already implemented their own mandatory charges for plastic products such as single-use bags and cutlery, which has been a popular move with environmentally-conscious shoppers and have also been effective in reducing their plastic litter.
Shaikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the environment quality sector at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, told The National that discussions for changes on single-use plastics in the UAE are "in the pipeline". Which means that the UAE might soon charge shoppers for single-use plastics to discourage consumers from using them.
The compulsory cost for single-use plastic products would help reduce wastes.
“We have an initiative... to put more incentives and constraints at the same time on plastic waste. It is an ongoing effort under the supervision of the ministry, we are working together with the big grocery markets to have the incentives both negative and positive for the use of the plastic waste," said Shaikha Al Hosani to The National.
Other companies like Carrefour have long introduced the option for customers to purchase reusable, biodegradable shopping bags. However, plastic bags are still free to use in the majority of supermarkets across the UAE. Businesses such as Costa Coffee also offer their customers a discount if they bring their own reusable cups.
Currently, at least 127 countries have implemented some form of regulation for plastic bags. Out of this list only a few countries, such as the UK, have compulsory charges for single-use plastic bags while others like New Zealand have completely banned them.
In the UK, after introducing the five pence fee for single-use plastic bags in 2015, there has been an 85% fall in plastic bag wastes in the country. The mandatory costs go to charity.