World Environment Day 2018 zooms in on the global issue of single-use plastics
Dubai: The war against single-use plastic is gaining ground in the UAE as more and more companies and entities are ditching disposable plastics, it was revealed on the occasion of World Environment Day.
Celebrated on June 5, the World Environment Day is the UN’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment.
It’s mainly a “people’s day” when people pledge to do something locally, nationally or globally to take care of the planet. And that something this year is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ or to refuse single-use plastic.
Engineer Alya Al Harmoudi, Director of Environment Department at Dubai Municipality, said the plastic pollution is becoming a prominent global issue.
“It’s important to understand that while admiring and protecting our own environment, we acknowledge that we are part of a global community, and that’s why these events are important,” Al Harmoudi said.
As part of its campaign against single-use plastics, Dubai Municipality partnered with Dubai Airports and distributed reusable shopping bags filled with food items in reusable packs such as fresh fruits and dates in glass jars for a ‘green Iftar’. The civic body also called on the public to carry reusable coffee cups and shopping bags with them.
Single-use plastics are straws, cutlery, food packaging, toiletries, cotton buds, and water bottles and other disposable plastics.
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder and managing director of social enterprise Goumbook, said targeting plastic pollution this year gives a big boost to efforts they are doing locally. Goumbook’s ‘Drop It’ campaign launched in May 2016 is designed to unite individuals and local business community to ditch single-use plastics.
“We’re very happy that plastic pollution is being addressed at an international level. This is exactly what we’ve been dreaming of,” Abella told Gulf News.
She said just in the past few months, we’ve seen a huge interest by companies to be plastic-free. "The great news is that a majority of hotels are getting on board. It’s picking up very very fast and we are at the forefront of this campaign,” she added.
‘Drop It’ campaign’s members have now reached 3,839 people from different companies in the UAE.
Natalie Banks from Azraq, a non-profit marine conservation group in the UAE, said shifting to reusable bottles and even straws only requires a habitual change.
Azraq supports the #StopSucking campaign in the UAE, following the US, that pushes the use of steel, paper, or bamboo straws.
If the local, national and global drive and commitment against single-use plastic is sustained, this generation could see dramatic results — an intentional reduction or elimination of demand for single-use plastic.
“In our generation, we’re going to see a lot of bans in place throughout the world. In terms of single-use plastic, we’re already seeing it anyway and a lot of alternatives are coming to the market. The problem with this existing single-use plastic that are already in the oceans and landfills is a harder and longer one to solve because it’s been an issue since the 1950s,” Banks told Gulf News.
5 trillion plastic bags are used each year or 10 million per minute; if tied together, these plastic bags could be wrapped around the world seven times every hour
Single-use plastics are the top 10 items commonly found in coastal clean-ups
The most common on-the-go plastic in the UAE are the plastic water bottles, roughly 450 of which are used by each resident per year.