Egyptian MP suggests banning single-use plastic bags – Egypt Independent

Mira Maged
June 11, 2019

Egyptian MP Anisa Hassouna has submitted a proposal to ban single-use plastic bags to the Cabinet of Egypt, along with ministries of Foreign Trade, Minister of Environment and Industry, on Monday 10 June.

The MP recommended substituting plastics with more environment-friendly materials such as paper. Hassouna pointed out that Egypt consumes nearly 12 billion plastics bags on an annual basis. She asserted that this excessive use of disposable plastic is not only environmentally harmful but it drains economy, as most of these materials are imported.

Noting the disadvantages of plastic bags, Hassouna said that they are unrecyclable, take hundreds of years to decompose and always end up being thrown in the oceans as well as seas, harming and killing wildlife.

Burning plastic also conjures harmful gases that poses a danger to human health. Hassouna even alluded that these plastic derivatives interact with food substances that could easily threatens the citizen’s health.

According to a scientific report that was conducted by the Science Magazine relying on data that was collected in 2010, Egypt ranks the seventh in the list of “countries with the most mismanaged plastic waste.”

According to report released by the Waste Management Regulatory Authority, Egypt generates 57,020 tons of solid waste/day.

The Association for the Protection of the Environment previously released a decision by Governor Ahmed Abdullah banning single-use and disposable plastics in the Red Sea. The decision ban will be applied in food shops, restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies. Moreover, all single use plastics including plastic knives, forks, straws and cups will be strictly banned from the Red Sea Governorate’s restaurants and cruise ships.

The Ministry of Environment launched a prior initiative funded by the EU in June 2017 as a part of a global move to reduce plastics consumption. This move targeted Egypt’s strong dependency on plastic bags and aimed to reduce their usage.

Tide is turning in battle against single-use plastic in the UAE Environment and Development

The tide is turning in the battle against single-use plastic in the UAE, businesses in the country have claimed.

Hotels, restaurants and supermarkets are among firms across the Emirates now actively seeking to reduce their environmental footprint.

In recent years, companies have found themselves under increasing pressure from more discerning consumers demanding they act more responsibly.

Plastic bag use in particular has drawn the ire of many, with large numbers of shoppers in the Middle East and around the world calling for their ban.

“There has been a massive change in mindset towards single-use plastics in the UAE and it is coming from the customers,” said Peter Avram, managing director of Avani, a company founded to help fight the “global epidemic of plastic pollution”.

“What you are seeing is a campaign from people here in the UAE. It’s crazy to see just how strongly people feel about removing them.”

Avani first began operating in Indonesia in 2014 in response to a growing demand for more eco-friendly products.

The company manufactures a range of compostable bioplastic goods and packaging, including cornstarch coffee cups and straws, wooden cutlery and bags made from the root vegetable Cassava.

Last year, the firm set up its first office in the Middle East in Dubai as it sought to expand its operations globally.

Today, more than 150 companies including Virgin Megastores, Deliveroo and Spinneys Dubai rely on its more sustainable alternatives to plastic products.

“People are more concerned than ever before about the impact of plastics on the environment,” said Mr Avram. “It’s the younger generation who are demanding that something is done about it. The people who need to change their attitudes are the older generations who might be a little stuck in their ways.

“There are a lot of supermarkets [in the region] approaching us.”

Mr Avram revealed how Avani’s shopping bags were designed with a zero tolerance attitude towards using petroleum-based plastic.

Made from Cassava – grown across the developing world as a source of carbohydrate – the vegetable is first pulped and dried before vegetable oil is added to act as a binding agent.

Following that, the mixture is melted before being blown into a thin, film-like material which the bags are made from. Even the writing on the product is eco-friendly, with the ink being manufactured from soybean.

“They lооk, feel and perform like plastic but are made from Cassava rооt and natural resins,” said Mr Avram, who pointed out that some plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose.

“They are 100 percent compostable, unlike other biodegradable alternatives.”

Experts recognise that countering plastic pollution represents a huge global challenge, but one which consumers and manufacturers are increasingly waking up to.

An estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic pollution has been produced since the 1950s, according to US academics, and last year a United Nations conference reported plastic was responsible for the deaths of more than 1.1 million animals and seabirds each year.

Charging customers for plastic bags has been one recent development in the fight to reduce their use, and Mr Avram claimed evidence suggested the idea was working.

A trial adopted by Waitrose in Abu Dhabi in 2018 – where shoppers were charged Dh0.05 per plastic bag – led to a 74 percent reduction in their purchase.

It is not just supermarkets in the UAE who are now keen to demonstrate their efforts to tackle the menace of single-use plastic, however. A number of hotel chains have also announced policies to drastically reduce their use.

This week, the Hilton group said it had successfully fulfilled its promise to eliminate all plastic straws and bottles from its 25 hotels in the country.

“We are driven by our belief that this is simply the right thing to be doing,” said William Costley, Hilton’s vice president in the Arabian Peninsula region.

“[We] also believe that over the long run there is an opportunity to actually make savings through re-usable materials, replacing some plastic items.”

The Radisson Hotel Group also said it was taking steps to eliminate the use of plastic.

“Plastic straws have been taken out of restaurants and bars and have been replaced by paper straws, and even pasta ones in some cases,” said spokesman Xavier Halbi.

Meanwhile, luxury hotel Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island has moved to ban single-use plastic throughout its resort.

Guests are even given reusable water bottles at check-in to cut down on waste and on-site water filtration system ensures the hotels avoids buying in water in plastic containers. (The National)

CREDIT: Reem Mohammed / The National.
Dubai Airports to ban single-use plastics in 2020 Environment and Development

Dubai Airports will ban single-use plastics at the world’s busiest international airport beginning next year.

The company, which manages Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, on Monday pledged to ban items such as plastic knives and forks, straws and shopping bags, from consumer spaces from January 1, 2020.

Dubai Airports recycles over 43,000 tonnes of paper, glass, and other waste, each year, in a bid to limit its impact on the environment. Over the past six months, the company collected and disposed of 16 tonnes of single-use plastic bottles and bottle caps.

“At an airport that hosts some 90 million people per year, we believe we can make a tangible difference by eliminating single-use plastics in consumer spaces,” said Eugene Barry, executive vice president of Commercial at Dubai Airports.

“Today we are making a commitment to work with all of our concession and hospitality partners to achieve that goal.”

Last week, on World Environment Day, Dubai Airports worked with more than 100 businesses operating at DXB to prevent the distribution of more than 150,000 straws, the equivalent of 30,000 metres of plastic.

Single-use plastics have long been a thorn in the side of environmentalists. Countries have slowly begun to introduce complete bans — the latest being Canada who on Sunday said it would stop distributing single-use plastics entirely by 2021.

It is estimated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic pollution has been produced around the world since 1950 — the equivalent of 16,600 Burj Khalifas.

The effect that plastic pollution has had on the environment has been crippling. It has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1.1 million birds and animals each year.

There are said to be two million plastic bags in use each minute around the world, the average time that each bag is ever used for is 12 minutes. Plastic bags can also take up to a thousand years to decompose.

“An airport acts as a literal and figurative doorway to a nation, by welcoming millions to the culture, lifestyle and development of the nation,” said Habiba Al Mar’ashi, chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group.

“By banning single use plastic at the airport, the UAE is able to send a strong message to the 89 million plus people who pass through our airports annually and act as leaders in the global fight against plastic pollution.”

While the announcement has been widely welcomed, not least because DXB has been named as the world’s busiest airport for the past five years with 89.1 million visitors last year alone, there were still concerns over the damage that air travel is causing to the environment.

Air transport contributes to 4.9 per cent of human-caused climate change, according to an international body established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Chief among their concerns were the high amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases being emitted by planes.

A recent study by Airbus revealed that the problem is only going to get worse as air traffic grows across the Middle East over the next 10 years.

It was projected that, by 2034, there would be 2365 new passenger aircraft in the region’s skies.

According to the latest figures released by the Air Transport Action Group, there were 859 million tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by the air travel industry in 2017.

In the same period, 4.1 billion passengers were carried by the world’s airlines.

The ATAG website also stated that around 80 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions from planes occur on flights that were longer than 1,500km, for which there was no practical alternative mode of transport. (The National)