Reusable canvas and jute bags on display at Carrefour in Mall of the Emirates. Photo courtesy of The National (Abu Dhabi)
The EAD reported that based on figures collected from retail stores, the number of single-use plastic bags at shopping outlets has dropped by more than 90 percent since a ban on single-use plastic bags was implemented in Abu Dhabi last June.
The ban has led to a drop in the use of plastic bags by half-a-million a day – totalling more than 87 million since 1 June.
The agency also reported an increase in the number of people switching to more sustainable alternatives, such as reusable bags, since the implementation of the ban.
Additionally, the EAD has started carrying out inspection tours in Abu Dhabi to monitor compliance with the ban at retail stores and to educate outlets about the importance of replacing single-use bags with reusable ones.
"These inspections showed a very high compliance rate with the ban and the use of approved alternatives," according to the EAD.
The agency has also focused on promoting positive change in consumer behaviour through various initiatives revolving around the emirate's Single-Use Plastic Policy.
Recently, a guide titled 'Becoming Free of Single-Use Products: A Guide for Abu Dhabi Government' was circulated (in both Arabic and English) to all government agencies, reaching more than 3,000 government employees.
Additionally, 15 awareness sessions were organised and 25 awareness materials were circulated on Abu Dhabi's 'Mission to Zero' campaign, with the total number of participants reaching 3,550 people, the EAD reported.
The EAD has also started working with over 30 private and public entities to collect some 8,000 tons of plastic bottles over the next five years, the agency explained.
The plastic bottles will go directly to the emirate’s recycling sector, according to the agency.
"This helps strengthen this vital sector in parallel with reducing the presence of these products in the environment."
In 2022, more than 30 million plastic bottles were recovered, compared to 7.25 million bottles in 2021, the agency reported.
"This amounts to approximately 850,000 bottles per week (more than 10 tonnes)," the agency added.