DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 12, 2013 (ENS) - A six-month public awareness campaign on reducing plastic bag usage and waste was launched Thursday by the Waste Management Department of Dubai Municipality, a city in the United Arab Emirates, located within the emirate of the same name.
The campaign is part of the effort to implement directives issued by the Dubai Ministry of Environment and Water to reduce the use of all types of plastic bags, especially those distributed by shopping centers, and to halt the use of plastic products that are not biodegradable.
Launched Thursday, the "Say No to Plastic Bags" campaign will take place at the Co-operative Society of Al Etihad Mall and in collaboration with other cooperative societies and shopping malls across the Emirate of Dubai.
Waste Management Department Director Abdul Majeed Saifaie said plastic bag waste is considered one of the main sources of environmental pollution and is hazardous to human health as well as marine and animal health.
Dubai's 2.1 million residents use 2.9 billion plastic bags each year, the officials said, emphasizing that effective community action is essential for success of government efforts to eliminate single-use plastic bags.
Programs will be conducted every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 to 9pm to educate the public about the consequences of increased plastic usage and encourage them to use alternative ways of carrying their purchases, Saifaie said.
At the campaign launch, thousands of reusable and recyclable bags were distributed at each of the cooperative societies together with a leaflet outlining methods of reducing plastic bag waste.
Salah Amiri, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality, said the campaign will emphasize the hazardous consequences of increased use of plastic bags.
"All channels of communication will be utilized to convey the importance of the message to each member of the society helping to save the life of local animals including camels in deserts, turtles and fishes in the sea as well as other precious marine wealth like coral cliffs," Amiri told the "Kaleej Times."
Saifaie said, "The civic body officials will also visit the plastic bag manufacturing companies in the emirate and ensure that all types of bags are recyclable and biodegradable."
In March, Environment and Water Minister Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad issued a decision requiring manufacturers and suppliers of plastic products to register biodegradable plastic products according to the Emirates Conformity Assessment System and also in accordance with the Emirati specification standards, UAE 2009:5009.
The final deadline for registration is December 1, 2013.
The decision was issued to implement a resolution approved in 2009 by the Council of Ministers of Services, authorizing establishment of a program initiative to reduce the number of plastic bags and other plastic products.
The decision currently applies to shopping bags and trash bags, but it will include other biodegradable plastic products that are in line with the UAE standard.
The Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology expanded the scope of the registration list for biodegradable plastic products to include 15 new types of plastic products.
The decision covers all single-use bags - shopping bags, garbage bags, garment bags, mailing bags, mail-order bags for magazines and newspapers, as well as eating utensils used for one time only such as food plates, cups, and packaging material such as plastic bubble casings and foam wrap.
The decision includes plastic casings used for flower packaging, secondary packaging, stretch film, cling film, and shrink film, plastic pads used for lining cardboard boxes, personal care products made of plastic materials such as gloves, boots, and any toiletries made from plastic materials used for one time only, along with plastic bags used for covering seedlings, polyethylene tablecloths, and bags used for packaging all bakery products.
The decision ban, the marketing, trade or circulation of plastic products that are not registered in the UAE conformity assessment system, whether biodegradable or not, from January 1, 2014.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.
Cover photo: Plastic bag from Dubai. Author: Dennis S. Hurd. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Uploaded to flickr.com