The UAE will impose a nationwide ban on single-use plastic from next year, the government has said.
From January 1, 2024, plastic bags of any material or composition will be prohibited.
From January 1, 2026, it will be prohibited to import plastic cutlery, drinks cups, styrofoam and boxes.
The ban will include everything from “food packaging, plastic bottles, cotton sticks, crackers bags and cigarette butts … wet wipes, balloons and balloon sticks” that contain plastic.
The move will protect the environment and be of benefit to consumers, state news agency Wam said.
The government said authorities, retailers, suppliers and consumers should prepare with “suitable, sustainable and multi-use alternatives in all shopping stores, retail stores and sales outlets on a permanent basis”, the agency reported.
The federal ruling goes further than new rules last summer in Dubai, which imposed a nominal 25 fils charge on plastic bags, and in Abu Dhabi, which banned most plastic bags.
In Abu Dhabi, the June 1 ban has already led to 87 million fewer single-use plastic bags being used, a cut of about 90 per cent. Sharjah had already planned a ban on bags from January 1, 2024.
The ruling contains exceptions that include plastic bags made from recycled materials. It also includes plastics required in goods that are exported abroad.
Plastic bags are one of the most problematic kinds of waste, polluting streets and waterways and harming birds and marine life. It takes decades to degrade and microscopic particles have been found inside the bodies of fish, birds and other animals.
Last year, as the plastic charge was rolled out, Dubai officals said nine in 10 turtles and five in ten camels found dead had plastic in their stomachs.
The UAE, which will host the United Nations climate summit Cop28 in November, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.