Abu Dhabi has reduced the use of single-use plastic bags in retail stores by 87 million since the emirate introduced a ban on June 1.
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi said the reduction is equivalent to half a million bags a day, with the overall use of single-use plastic bags down by more than 90 per cent.
Abu Dhabi banned single-use plastic bags to protect the environment and address the high rate of plastic bag use across the UAE, which is almost four times the global average.
According to figures issued by the World Government Summit in February 2019, 11 billion plastic bags are used in the Emirates each year.
Estimates suggest around 13 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year globally.
The agency said people have since switched to more sustainable reusable bags with a lower environmental footprint.
Routine inspections conducted by various governmental organisations revealed that more than 80 per cent of outlets are offering environment-friendly options or charging a fee for reusable plastic shopping bags.
Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, secretary general of the agency, said the reduction in the consumption of single-use plastics will also reduce emissions and will help the waste sector divert 80 per cent of municipal solid waste in Abu Dhabi away from landfills.
“The single-use plastic policy in Abu Dhabi addresses the issue of plastic pollutants that leak into the environment and cause damage," she said.
"We are exploring the use of sustainable solutions to solve this challenge in a manner that fully supports the government’s long-term vision for a greener future.”
The agency has also distributed a guide, in Arabic and English, entitled Becoming Free of Single-Use Products: A Guide for Abu Dhabi Government to all government agencies detailing ways to implement the commitment contained in the single-use plastic policy.
The EAD held 15 awareness sessions since June, targeting different categories of youth and public, and private sector institutions, as well as in the industrial and commercial sectors to raise awareness.
It has also introduced an app called Baadr — named after the Arabic word for "initiate" — that aims to educate, encourage and reward users looking to shift to a more environmentally friendly way of living.
The agency said it is also partnering with 30 private and public entities to develop a recovery system to collect and recover about 8,000 tonnes of plastic bottles over the next five years, which will go directly to the emirate’s recycling sector.
In 2022, more than 30 million plastic bottles were recovered, compared with 7.25 million bottles in 2021, and more than 10 tonnes of plastic is being collected weekly, equal to approximately 850,000 bottles.