The UAE’s ministry of environment and water has issued a decree banning the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags by the end of 2012. Earlier, the ban was suggested to be put into action from 1st January 2013 but concerns about plastic products accumulating in the deserts and the sea and their effect on the local wildlife, have led the ministry to advance the date of the ban.
The banned products include flexible shopping bags and semi-rigid plastic packaging for food, magazines, consumer-durables, garbage bags, bin-liners for household use, shrink wrap, pallet wrap and cling film.
It also covers other articles normally used over short periods and subsequently discarded. The official notice stated that all plastic products from now on will require ECAS Registration Certificate issued by Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology (ESMA) and this is only for products made from oxo-bio plastic.
The products should comply with UAE Standard 5009 of 2009 and must be made with pro-degradant additive from suppliers who have been audited by ESMA. ESMA will inspect plastic bags and other plastic products at port-of-entry and also conduct factory inspections to ensure full compliance of products being manufactured within the UAE.
Oxo-biodegradable plastic has a controlled lifespan and ability to biodegrade completely either on land or water. Oxo Biodegradable (OXO) plastic is polyolefin plastic to which has been added amounts of metal salts.
These catalyze the natural degradation process to speed it up so that the OXO plastic will degrade resulting in micro-fragments of plastic and metals which will remain in the environment but will not be seen as a visual contaminant.
The degradation process is shortened from hundreds of years to years and/or months for degradation and thereafter biodegradation depends on the micro-organisms in the environment.