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Plastic not so fantastic

Plastic not so fantastic

A UAE official says there will be no plastics bags in the UAE by 2013; Kipp would bet against this one, if it was allowed to bet.

January 9, 2011 2:54 by



From the same country that brought you the postponement of the final final EIDA deadline (among others) comes a new vow to have “no plastics bags in the UAE by 2013.”

Yes, Kipp ranted about the UAE’s inability to stick to the various deadlines it loves to set just the other day, but we thought the sheer unlikeliness of this particular deadline deserved special attention.

Speaking at the inauguration of the ArabPlast & Tekon/Tube 2011 show (a Middle East trade show for rubber, plastics and plastic processing. About as sexy as it sounds), Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, the UAE’s Minister of Environment & Water, stressed the country’s commitment to responsibly producing and consuming plastics. Somewhere between praising the country for its current efforts and underlining the importance the UAE pays to its corporate social responsibility, Dr. Fahad dropped the two-year-deadline bomb.

Emirates 24|7 reports Dr. Fahad as saying: “The UAE and the entire GCC regions are on the forefront of countries preserving the environment when it comes to producing plastics. The UAE will be free of plastics bags in 2013. The national plastics and petrochemicals companies are adhering to the environment measures we have in place to enhance the environment friendly approach of the UAE as part of their corporate social responsibility towards the community.”

So the omnipresent little plastic bag that is used to bag almost every consumable item from groceries and spare parts to stationery and garments is going to become obsolete in two years. A noble and commendable ambition, for sure, but the kind of administrative and logistical efforts required to observe a timeline like this are truly the stuff of nightmares. Even if the country was to roll up its sleeves and get its act together for this one, the move will require a real shift in both company policy and the UAE consumer culture. And those things don’t like shifting.

Think Kipp’s being our usual cynical self? Well of course, it’s what we do. But this time our cynicism is not unfounded: a few years back when UAE’s major retailer’s started ‘going green’ they began to promote the usage of cloth bags (which you could purchase at their stores, of course) for a higher price or you could just choose to use the regular flimsy plastic bags. Kipp doesn’t think we need to spell out how the initiative ended. How many of those cloth bags have you seen lately?

Don’t get us wrong, we are all for preserving the environment and we’d be the first to admit the UAE’s gluttonous consumption of plastic bags is a serious problem. But setting these super-ambitious targets risks undermining efforts and making future attempts less likely.

What do you think: Can the UAE put its plastic bag addiction behind it?



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