A residential community in Dubai is banning the sale of plastic water bottles in restaurant and coffee shops.
Senior figures at Sustainable City, which was built to promote ethically responsible living in the emirate, said the ban on bottles was part of a wider scheme to reduce plastic use in the community by 90 per cent over the next six months.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by September, by which time the organisers hope to have reduced single-use plastic consumption by 50 per cent.
“We, as a society, have become addicted to single-use plastics,” said Karim El Jisr, executive director of See Institute, a sister company to Sustainable City that acted as a research partner.
“We have set a high target and, while we realise we cannot completely remove single-use plastics, we want to reduce the use of non-essentials.”
Mr El Jisr said all six restaurants and coffee shops in Sustainable City would no longer offer plastic water bottles to customers, who would be given free filtered drinking water instead.
Also on the list of banned plastic were straws, bags, cutlery, foam food packaging and balloons.
A survey carried out by the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environmental Agency this year found that 98 per cent of the population believed urgent action was required to tackle single-use plastic consumption.
The average UAE resident uses 1,182 plastic bags alone per year, according to the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi.
Businesses that participate in Sustainable City’s campaign will be awarded a certificate.
If successful, the project could be rolled out to other businesses in the emirate, Mr El Jisr said.
The campaign also aims to discourage residents from bringing single use plastics into the community.
Instead, for example, residents will be encouraged to use their own suit bags when taking their laundry to the dry cleaners.
“Sustainable City is a brand and we would like businesses and residents to be held up to that standard,” said Mr El Jisr.
Faris Saeed, chief executive the community developers, Diamond Developers, said he hoped the initiative would inspire behavioural change.
"While plastic is integral to lives, people often tend to forget that plastic pollution is also one of the most damaging to our ecosystem,” he said.
“This [initiative] underlines our commitment to promoting a sustainable environment and reducing our ecological footprint to secure a greener and cleaner nature for future generations."
He said the initiative supported global efforts to combat climate change, the green vision of the UAE, and Dubai Plan 2021.
“It will help avoid plastic waste pollution by inspiring behavioural change,” he said.
Under the initiative, water fountains will be installed in common areas and the gym – with the intention of eliminating the use of plastic water bottles and single-use cups.
Management at Sustainable City said they were keen to be seen practicing what they preach.
The community is surrounded by a 10 metre buffer zone, made from 2,500 trees that surround the perimeter of the development.
This was designed to purify the air that came into the city and create a breeze in the process.
A farm also runs through the entire length of Sustainable City, made up of 11 biodome greenhouses which take up a total space of just over 3,000 square metres.