BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today,
3 Jan 2010
"The UAE free of plastic bags", will be the theme this 2010, also to be propagated while observing the national environment day on Feb.4, announced the Federal Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) on Saturday.
The ministry had launched the three year long "UAE free of plastic" campaign in October 2009, aimed at reducing the use of plastic carrier bags in the country, as a first step towards a complete ban on the bags from the year 2013.
According to earlier statistics released by the environment ministry, the UAE uses about one billion plastic carrier bags per year and the plastic material accounts for 10.9 per cent of the total amount of household waste in the country.
"About 8,000 tonnes of plastic film, used as the material to make bags and wrapping them, have been produced every month in the country," the ministry statistics revealed.
A senior MOEW official noted that the battle cry against plastic bags has been announced to inspire the country's residents to completely discard the habit of plastic bags usage.
Obaid Juma Al Matrooshi, Director General of the MOEW, said that the national-level campaign will raise awareness among the public on the adverse impacts and hazards of plastic bags that pose high risk to the environment.
"As it takes several years to decompose, the plastic bags turn into one of the most dangerous contaminants in the planet. Serious environmental imbalance is caused, as a result of the impact of toxic substances left in the soil, besides of course, the pollution that occurs in the seas and lakes," he said.
Matrooshi pointed out, "A recent studies has disclosed that the plastic bags thrown out carelessly led to the death of large numbers of animals on land and under water. Marine mammals like sea turtles as well as grazing animals such as camels, cows and goats fall victim to the plastic bags that remain trapped inside their digestive systems, eventually leading to their demise."
"The harmful substances also pose as a direct threat to human health when used. Moreover, the plastic bags being dumped carelessly or deliberately, damage the aesthetic appearance of the environment," he noted.
"All segments of the society should take initiatives individually as well as collectively to reduce the use of plastic bags and contribute to the wellbeing of their surrounding environment," Matrooshi said.
To be banned
"All the supermarkets and retail outlets and other kinds of business establishments will soon be banned from printing their logos on non-biodegradable plastic carrier bags," said Hunaida Quaed, Head of the Education and Awareness section at the MOEW.
"A range of alternatives including jute bags, canvas bags, paper bags and biodegradable plastic bags, can be used instead of plastic carrier bags. A special committee will analyse the standard specifications of plastic bags in collaboration with private sector firms, manufacturers and various municipal authorities in the nation," she added.
According to her, the initiative will focus on encouraging the public to reduce the use of plastic carriers and will educate them on the harmful impact of plastics on the environment.