Abu Dhabi: About 25,000 eco-friendly shopping bags will be distributed through participating kiosks at shopping malls and 39 supermarkets in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain this weekend, from tomorrow to Saturday.
As part of the "Make UAE Plastic Bag Free" campaign there will be no non-biodegradable plastic bags at any of the 39 outlets of the five supermarkets during the "plastic bag-free weekend" declared by government agencies.
The government aims to phase out the use of plastic bags nationwide by 2013.
About 11.6 billion plastic bags equalling 140,000 tonnes are used in the country a year.
The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and major supermarkets and malls launched the campaign yesterday in the capital with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) and the Centre for Waste Management-Abu Dhabi (CWM-A). EAD's campaign aims to inform shoppers about the harmful effects of plastic bags.
During the plastic bag-free weekend, shoppers are urged to visit campaign kiosks at Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall, Khalidia Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and Al Wahda Mall and Al Jimi and Al Bawadi malls in Al Ain and pick up a free eco bag.
The Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Spinneys and Abela stores are taking part in the campaign.
On behalf of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, Dr Jaber Al Jaberi, Executive Director, Environment Operations Sector at EAD said: "According to the CWM-A, plastic makes up 19 per cent of domestic waste in Abu Dhabi City".
"Half the camel deaths each year in the UAE are due to camels ingesting plastic bags.
"Floating plastic bags also pose a threat to sea turtles and other biodiversity when they mistakenly swallow them for food," he said.
"Every time we reach for a plastic bag we need to stop and think about the effect it has on our natural heritage."
New view: Customers receptive
Residents who did not care about plastic bags in the past are now willing to try eco-friendly options, retail chains said yesterday. "In the past ... they used to get annoyed. But today they are eager to listen to our advice, thanks to the awareness," said Abu Bakr T.P., General Manager, Lulu Hypermarkets. Colette Shannon, Marketing Manager, Spinneys, agreed. Spinneys will charge 20 fils per biodegradable bag this weekend and donate proceeds to charity.
Will you be taking part in the "no plastic weekend" Campaign? Will you switch to reusable or biodegradable bags? What more can be done to help raise awareness about this issue?
By Binsal Abdul Kader