Abu Dhabi will ban the use of single-use plastic bags from June, the emirate's environmental agency said on Wednesday.
Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) said it plans to gradually reduce the amount of single-use plastic products used in the emirate and encourage the use of reusable products.
It said it will implement measures to reduce demand for about 16 single-use plastic products, including cups, stirrers, lids and cutlery.
The EAD said it will also phase out single-use styrofoam cups, plates and food containers by 2024.
The initiative is based on plans announced in 2020 to phase out disposable plastics, which had been expected to come into effect earlier but was put on hold by Covid-19.
In the two years since, the agency has consulted partners from plastic producers to retailers to ensure its effective implementation.
In support of the phasing out of single-use plastic, EAD plans to carry out awareness campaigns across the emirate to educate the public on the new procedures.
Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri, EAD’s secretary general, said the ban is being introduced because of single-use plastic's "harmful impacts on the environment and biodiversity".
“As part of our plan to completely curb the use of single-use plastics, we are encouraging Abu Dhabi citizens to use more multipurpose and re-usable materials to reduce their environmental footprint," she said.
The EAD has previously organised clean-up events and awareness campaigns about the damage done by single-use plastics and litter and their effect on beaches and marine habitats.
It is also targeting private sector companies, providing them with tools to effectively plan for the policy’s implementation.
Many restaurants are also launching initiatives to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and some major retailers are encouraging shoppers to use reusable shopping bags.
EAD will also conduct a detailed study on the introduction of an incentive-based, single-use plastic water bottle return scheme in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with more than 30 private and public entities.
Dubai have also made moves in this area. The emirate in February announced plans to introduce a charge of 25 fils (about $0.06) for single-use plastic bags from July 1.
The emirate's Executive Council said the charge would be applied in retail, clothing, restaurants and pharmacies, as well as on delivery orders and e-commerce orders.
A tariff on such bags is applied in more than 30 countries, and a partial or complete ban has been imposed in more than 90.
Globally, almost 300 million tonnes of plastic pollution are produced each year, the equivalent weight of the human race, according to figures released by the UN Environment Programme.
Only 9 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
The UN estimated if current trends continue, the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by the year 2050.