The United Arab Emirates has moved forward a ban on all disposable plastic products, except those made from oxo-biodegradable plastics, from 2013 to the end of this year.
Though oxo-biodegradable plastics cannot be composted as some biodegradable plastics can, if left in the open they will decompose within 2-18 months. In a landfill decomposition occurs much more slowly however, though still far more quickly than ordinary plastics.
The ban, enacted by the Ministry of Environment and Water, was precipitated over concerns about plastic waste in the desert and the sea, and the effect of that on wildlife.
Covered in the ban are all packaging and disposable plastic products such as shopping bags, packaging for food, magazines, garbage bags, shrink and pallet wrap, cling film, as well as other plastic designed to be used over short periods and discarded. (Packaging Gateway)
The regulation also includes a standard for registration of companies manufacturing and importing biodegradable plastics. The Intelligent SME quotes Eng. Mohammed Saleh Al Badri of the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology:
ESMA officials will visit each factory and see that the manufacturing process complies with our specification. So, basically, the raw materials, additives, and manufacturing process, will be pre-approved by us. The companies will have regular monitoring, and we will collect finished samples, as well as the ones still being made for testing. Unannounced visits will be made to ensure consistency. At this point, we don’t have a testing centre, so all samples are sent abroad, but we are encouraging labs to take up this facility within the country. This regulatory measure will ensure that all the plastic bags used in the country will be degradable to harmless substances that will not affect the environment.
East Africa Pushes For Plastic Ban
All of this comes as the East African Community legislative assembly—an intergovernmental organization for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—has passed 'The East African Community Plastics Control Bill'.
If all heads of state of the member countries sign it, the bill would provide the legal framework for the outright banning of the manufacturing, sale, import and use of polyethylene material. Read more.