Get plastic ban in the bag
FNC urges stores to take more responsibility to help reduce a toxic problem
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.