In a bold effort to protect its natural environment and rich biodiversity, Abu Dhabi is joining global efforts and leading the region with a progressive new policy curbing the use of single-use plastic
Turning the tide
Abu Dhabi is working hard to protect its clean, green spaces and rich marine ecosystem.
New regulations announced in March have seen fees applied for disposable plastic bags, and sustainable alternatives offered, leading up to a total in 2021. Plastic bottle recycling schemes will also be introduced in shops, offering incentives in exchange for bottles.
Other everyday items that have been found to cause the largest amount of marine waste, including beverage cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers, will also be subject to fees.
The regulations feed into Abu Dhabi’s focus on designing a dynamic, sustainable future. Innovative projects such as Noor Abu Dhabi – the world’s biggest single-site solar plant – are increasing the emirate’s reliance on clean energy; while significant investment into research and development in agtech, and sustainable farming techniques like those used by Abu Dhabi-based Pure Harvest Smart Farms to generate year-round crops in the desert, are sowing the seeds for a sustainable food supply.
Since 1950, the world has created 6.3 trillion kg of plastic waste, 91 per cent of which has never been recycled, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Science Advances. Much of it ends up in the oceans, where it chokes marine life, or disintegrates into billions of particles that have been found all over the earth, from the Pyrenees to the Pacific.
Change is now on the way, with single-use plastic bans introduced in the European Union, Canada, India – and now Abu Dhabi. The policy, says Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, will help to address environmental issues, as well as those of human health and global food security.
“If we do not take bold steps to contain the use of single-use plastics through influencing behavior and effective waste management,” she says, “there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and seas by 2050.”
Working in parallel with the new policy are companies like Agthia Group, which have been innovating in plastic alternatives. The Al Ain-based company makes bottles from fermented plant sugars. Their technology processes the materials into a resin, which is molded like plastic. Bottle caps are made from fermented sugar cane, with decomposition taking place in only 80 days.
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