“The UAE and the GCC are on the forefront of countries preserving the environment when it comes to producing plastics. The UAE will be free of plastic bags in 2013. The national plastics and petrochemicals companies are adhering to the environmental measures […] to enhance the environment friendly approach of the UAE as part of their corporate social responsibility towards the community. Their adherence to environment measures also enhances their global competitive edge,” he said during the inauguration of ArabPlast and Tekno/Tube Arabia 2011, a trade platform for rubber, plastics and plastic processing in the Middle East.
Organisers of the ArabPlast show revealed that the UAE currently consumes 20 billion bags out of a global figure of 500 billion bags.
The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) launched a nation-wide the ‘UAE is free from plastic bags’ campaign in October 2009 to reduce non-biodegradable plastic bags in four phases, after a survey conducted by MOEW showed that plastic bags and other plastic material added to 10.9 per cent of the total amount of household waste a year.
The four phases involved education and awareness at the public and academic levels, finding alternatives to plastic bags and setting of legalities by authorities. The final phase involves the actual move to reduce and prevent the manufacture of plastic bags by year 2013.
Plastic bags pose danger to the environment because the petroleum product, polyethylene, present in the material is highly toxic and takes a thousand years to break down.
Alternatives to plastic bags such as jute bags, canvas, paper bags are widely available in the UAE and some supermarkets have already replaced non-biodegradable bags with bags made out of oxo-biodegradable plastic that eventually break down into non-poisonous materials.
The Gulf region dominates the world when it comes to petrochemicals production. The demand outweighs supply and this industry is always linked to the prices of oil. Plastics comprises 40 percent of materials we use in life thus creating a huge demand all over the world. Referring to the World Cup 2022, Dr Al Mulla said that sports industry needs lots of plastics in the establishment of sports cities.
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