Get plas­tic ban in the bag

FNC urges stores to take more re­spon­si­bil­ity to help re­duce a toxic prob­lem

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Is­mail Se­bug­waawo @is­mailsebu

Su­per­mar­kets are fail­ing to cut down on the use of plas­tic shop­ping bags, UAE de­ci­sion-mak­ers have said, with a stag­ger­ing 13 bil­lion used by cus­tomers each year.

Fed­eral Na­tional Coun­cil (FNC) mem­bers yes­ter­day asked gov­ern­ment min­is­ters to im­ple­ment a law - first passed seven years ago - that was sup­posed to see plas­tic bags phased out by 2013.

But they also urged su­per­mar­kets to take re­spon­si­bil­ity, with one mem­ber say­ing it is “frus­trat­ing” that re­tail­ers have failed to get on board.

Mar­wan Ahmed bin Galita, an FNC mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Dubai, said: “It’s frus­trat­ing that su­per­mar­kets and gro­cery stores are still not sup­port­ing the jour­ney to­wards less plas­tic in the UAE.”

He said that in many cases shop staff of­fer cus­tomers too many car­ri­ers.

“Shops need to train their staff to re­duce the use of plas­tic - not in­crease it.”

Ha­mad Ahmed Al Ra­hoomi, who rep­re­sents Dubai, raised the de­bate yes­ter­day and said the UAE Cab­i­net in Oc­to­ber 2009 is­sued a de­cree en­dors­ing a to­tal phase-out of the use of plas­tic bags.

But he said he is con­cerned the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment has not im­ple­mented the reg­u­la­tions.

“Plas­tic bags pose a big danger to the en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing wildlife,” he told the cham­ber yes­ter­day.

“It’s more than six years since a de­cree to ban non-biodegrad­able plas­tic bags was is­sued. But rules haven’t been en­forced.”

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Ziy­oudi, the Min­is­ter of Cli­mate Change and En­vi­ron­ment, said the min­istry has been try­ing to make gro­cery stores find al­ter­na­tives for plas­tic bags.

He said: “Sub­sti­tutes such as jute, pa­per or biodegrad­able plas­tic bags are the op­tions given to peo­ple by su­per­mar­kets and gro­cery shops, in­stead of plas­tic bags.”

Al Ziy­oudi added that there have been many cam­paigns to im­ple­ment the ‘Plas­ticFree UAE’ ini­tia­tive. Among the var­i­ous projects in­cluded the ‘Plas­tic-Free Schools’ project im­ple­mented across the coun­try. He also said biodegrad­able plas­tic car­rier bags are com­pul­sory in su­per­mar­kets. Al Ziy­oudi said: “The move to reusing bags in place of the plas­tic will con­tinue, with a num­ber of aware­ness pro­grammes aimed at var­i­ous seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion.” A num­ber of Euro­pean states have made ef­forts to slash the use of plas­tic bags in re­cent years, most with the in­tro­duc­tion of a manda­tory charge for shop­pers - and have seen pos­i­tive re­sults. Plas­tic bag us­age in Scot­land fell by 80 per cent in 2015 alone fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a 5p charge in 2014. The charge was also brought in by North­ern Ire­land in 2013, which saw a drop in us­age of 72 per cent the fol­low­ing year.

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