January 02, 2024 10:00 AM

The phased ban on single-use products is expected to encourage the private sector to promote the use of recycled materials

The Crown Prince of Dubai issued an Executive Council Resolution on the last day of 2023 that imposes a phased ban on the import and trading of single-use products. The resolution applies equally to single-use virgin and recycled products, regardless of their material composition.

Single-use plastics bags are the first affected by the ban, effective as of yesterday, Jan. 1, 2024. Non-plastic single-use products, including single-use bags, will be banned from June 1, 2024. Starting from Jan. 1, 2025, single-use plastic products, including items such as plastic stirrers, table covers, cups, styrofoam food containers, plastic straws, and plastic cotton swabs, will all be covered by the ban. From Jan. 1, 2026, the ban will extend to other single-use plastic products including plastic plates, plastic food containers, plastic tableware, and beverage cups and their plastic lids.

Single-use thin films for packaging meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, and bread are exempt from the ban. Exemptions also extend to garbage bags, and products intended for export or re-export outside the United Arab Emirates. The resolution prohibits the trading of these products in local markets and mandates a clear indication of their purpose for export or re-export outside the country.

The new regulation has the ‘ultimate goal of protecting the environment, encouraging people to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, and promoting the culture of using reusable products to advance sustainable development’, according to a Dec. 31, 2023, statement from the Emirate News Agency (WAM). The ban is also expected to ‘encourage the private sector to promote the use of recycled products, aligning with circular economy practices that foster sustainable recycling of products in local markets’.

The ban was first announced ahead of COP28, which the United Arab Emirates hosted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13, 2023. The conference ended with what its president described as an ‘historic’ deal to transition away from fossil fuels, which were cited by name in a COP decision text for the first time.

A conference panel at the Plastics Recycling Show Middle East & Africa (PSRME&A), which took place in Dubai last year, revealed that increasing the volume of recycled plastics is on the agenda in the UAE, as is increasing quality and consistency.