This story makes our hearts sing! Taking the threat of plastic bags seriously, Abu Dhabi is preparing for the 2013 total ban with a plastic-free weekend.
Residents of the United Arab Emirates use 11.6 billion plastic bags every year. That’s 11.6 billion camel-killing, toxin-oozing, non-biodegradable bags that choke our water ways and blight beautiful places. And for what?
By 2013, Abu Dhabi will have no further use of plastic bags, but they need to smooth out the transition for residents. Which is exactly what is so brilliant about the plastic-free weekend that starts today and ends on Saturday.
This weekend the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is teaming up with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) and 39 businesses throughout Abu Dhabi to mark the beginning of the end of plastic bags.
Plastic waste accounts for nearly 19% of the Emirate’s total waste and lasts up to 400 years, according to Khaleej Times. Although plastic won’t be officially outlawed until 2013, these three days will be a practice run for businesses and residents alike.
Participating businesses will not hand out any plastic bags, and if they do, they will charge for them. The money raised will be donated to a charity of EAD’s choice.
Many businesses have already switched to the biodegradable variety that break down within two years. Meanwhile, the EAD has stepped up a campaign that targets school-aged children.
According to Dr. Mariam Al Shanasy, the undersecretary of MEW, 10,000 school-age children have been provided with jute bags. The idea, presumably, is that more open-minded children will go home and encourage their parents to make the eco-sensible switch.
“Since they smell of food and are easily carried across land and water by the wind, plastic bags end up being eaten by camels and other farm animals, as well as turtles and wild animals or fish, causing them a slow and painful death,” Dr. Jaber Al Jaberi, executive director of the EAD’s Environment Operations Sector, told the paper.
Thanks to the political will of one of the world’s most progressive environmental agencies, the reign of Abu Dhabi’s oppressive plastic waste regime is nearing its end.
More on plastic waste in the Middle East:
Is the Mediterranean Sea Harboring A Giant Plastic Patch?
New Machine Converts Plastics Back To Oil
Half Of UAE’s Camels Choked On Plastic Bags