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Gulfood Green 2024

27 May 2024

Stopping single-use: Abu Dhabi to ban specific Styrofoam products from June 1st

Stopping single-use: Abu Dhabi to ban specific Styrofoam products from June 1st

This move is part of the Single-Use Plastic Policy initiated by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in 2020.

Styrofoam is a type of lightweight, rigid foam plastic known as expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is widely used in packaging and for products such as disposable coffee cups.

Specifically, the banned products are cups, lids, plates, and beverage containers (including their caps and lids) that are made from EPS.

Other prohibited items comprise food receptacles for products that are intended for immediate and direct consumption (on the spot or for takeout), and containers for products that are ready to be consumed without any further preparation, such as cooking, boiling or heating.

Products exempt from the ban include those not designed for single use, such as big storage boxes, coolers and trays used for meat, fruit, ready-made dairy products, and other food items for retail sale.

All other products meant for medical use are also exempted.

“Effective from June 1, 2024, there will be a ban on some Styrofoam products in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. This move will help reduce litter in the environment, as Styrofoam breaks down easily into microplastics that can enter the food chain and be harmful to human health as well as affect biodiversity.​​

“We are striving to make life easy for consumers while maintaining the balance of conserving the environment. Therefore, for the ban, we have only selected items that are avoidable single-use plastics, and have clear and sustainable alternatives. We will also provide support to government and private sector entities to facilitate the shift towards reusable solutions,” ​said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD, in a statement.

In particular, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) plays a significant role in raising awareness to achieve the objectives of the Single-Use Plastic Policy, and enable the private sector’s transition to environmentally friendly alternatives.

For instance, ADDED has provided a circular on the Styrofoam ban to more than 50,000 commercial establishments and 80 industrial facilities involved in plastic manufacturing.

It has also launched an awareness programme, in coordination with EAD, aimed to introduce the policy and highlight the banned products to relevant companies. During the programme’s workshops, a list of excluded products, and the mechanism for economic reconciliation and switching to locally manufactured alternatives were shared.

Starting from June 1, ADDED will be conducting field inspections at retail outlets and industrial establishments across Abu Dhabi to ensure compliance with the ban.

Noticeable results​

This new directive follows the ban on single-use plastic bags in 2022 and the introduction of a single-use plastic bottle return scheme last year.

“The success story for Abu Dhabi’s Single-Use Plastic Policy is that the consumption of 310m (more than 2,000 tonnes) single-use plastic bags has been avoided up to April 2024, and the number of plastic bags distributed at retailers’ cash counters has reduced up to 95%,” ​Dr Al Dhaheri said.

Additionally, over 1,000 tonnes of plastic bottles, equivalent to 67m bottles, were collected last year.

“Such great results would not have been possible without the active involvement of both consumers and the private sector.”

 

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