Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in the UAE has announced plans to ban single-use plastic bags in the emirate by next year.

The plan involves gradually phasing out the use of single-use plastic bags by 2021, as well as encouraging the use of sustainable alternatives and recycling measures.

According to Gulf News, the new policy will be implemented in collaboration with various government and private stakeholders.

It will involve removing 16 most common single-use plastics such as plastic cups, lids, cutlery, straws, stirrers and food containers, which account for the largest share of marine waste.

Additionally, the scheme will introduce a plastic bottle return deposit scheme to remove them from circulation.

EAD secretary-general Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri said: “The launch of the single-use plastics policy reflects our steadfast commitment towards transitioning to a more sustainable economy that seeks to minimise waste and protect vital ecosystems in our environment.

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“By implementing this new policy, Abu Dhabi will be joining more than 127 countries around the world that have already taken measures to ban or limit the use of disposable plastic materials.

“Our policy is aligned with international standards in order to make Abu Dhabi a pioneer in reducing the use of avoidable single-use materials by 2021.”

Several local environmental groups have welcomed the move.

Every year, the UAE uses around 11 billion plastic bags, according to a report presented in the World Government Summit in February last year.

The figure equates to 1,184 plastic bags per person per year, significantly higher than the global average of 307.

Recently, the senate of the US state of New Jersey passed a bill banning the use of single-use plastic bags.