Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait take action to ban single-use plastic

A quick highlight on key developments made by countries to combat the global issue of single-use plastics

The negative effects of single-use plastic on the environment is huge.
ITP Images/ Shutterstock
The negative effects of single-use plastic on the environment is huge.

Plastic is often considered miraculous for not just being cheap, but for the innumerable ways it can be used in our day-to-day lives. While the oil-derived product has been revolutionised into several forms, the negative effects of single-use plastic on the environment is equally well documented.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Single-use Plastic: A Roadmap for Sustainability report, only 9% of the nine billion tonnes of plastic that has been produced in the world has been recycled.

Single-use plastic waste mostly ends up in landfills, or is dumped into oceans posing a danger to marine life. These products range from straws, cups, bottles, plastic shopping bags, cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic lids, stirrers, and foam take-away containers.

According to the report, the continuation of current consumption patterns as well as waste management practices will result in he creation of 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in the environment be 2050. With the current rate of increase in plastic production, the plastics industry would be accountable for as much as 20% of the total oil consumption in the world.

The question is, what are consumers, businesses, and other stakeholders in the society doing to reduce or ban the use of single-use plastic?

Many countries are making a move by eliminating single-use plastic production or banning them completely. Bahrain passed regulations in July 2019 to put a total ban on single-use plastic bags and the import of non-biodegradable bags, with the products to be permanently banned in select malls and supermarkets across the kingdom.

Speaking at the time, the chief executive officer of Supreme Council of Environment (SCE), HE Dr Mohammed Mubarak Bin Daina called for the Ministerial Order no 11 for 2019, regulating the use of plastic products, to take effect on 21 July, 2019.

Earlier this year, director-general at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research’s (Kisr), Dr Samira Omar, revealed  that plastic waste generated in Kuwait was estimated to be 18% — equivalent to 181,440 tonnes — of all solid waste produced in the country each year.

Starting 1 January, 2020 Dubai International Airport (DXB), the world’s busiest airport that hosts 90 million people each year, will witness single-use plastics being banned at all its consumer spaces. DXB’s operator, Dubai Airports, recycles 43,000 tonnes of paper, glass, and other waste each year.

The UNEP study revealed that most plastics are not biodegradable. They gradually break down to become microplastics.

A ban on single-use plastic products, along with a change in consumer behaviour, and strong government policies can help tackle this global problem.

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