UAE finalizes systems in making plastic bags biodegradable by 2013 / May 16, 2011

42-22515832Press Release


UAE has finalized the systems and processes in making plastic

bags in the country biodegradable over the next two years. All

providers and suppliers of Oxo-Biodegradable additives –

ingredients that will enable plastic bags to degrade quickly –

need to be verified and approved by ESMA before they can deal

with plastic manufacturers and traders, according to a senior

government official.
This is in line with the decision of

Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA),

supported by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, to make

all plastic bags produced in the UAE biodegradable by 2013.

Eng. Mohammad Saleh Badri, Acting Director General, ESMA,

said: “All the plastic bags used in the UAE must be

biodegradable from 2013 so all the supermarkets, shops and

stores, plastic manufacturers and suppliers, and all the people

using them should be made aware of this regulation and practice


“We have now put a system on how to do this. We’re

currently coordinating with the providers of plastics,

including the manufacturers and the traders, informing them

that they need to be registered with and verified by ESMA. We

have started the dialogue with them and we’re conducting a

series of education sessions where we explain the systems and

processes they have to go through.”

To date, three

suppliers of these granular additives have been approved by

ESMA – Wells Plastics Limited for the manufacturing of Reverte

Oxo-Biodegradable additives; Symphony Environmental Limited for

the manufacturing of d2w Oxo-Biodegradable additives; and Bin

Hilal Enterprises for the manufacturing of Willow Ridge Oxo-

Biodegradable additives.

It is estimated that there are

more than 100 manufacturers and suppliers of Bio or Oxo-

Biodegradable additives in the UAE. About 95 per cent of the

plastic bags used in UAE are manufactured in the country and

only 5 per cent is imported from outside.


verification aims to ensure that the process of degradation

will not harm the people and environment. ESMA’s process of

verification assures that the manufacturers fully comply with

the requirements set by the Technical Regulation issued by UAE


A team of experts shall conduct an audit on the

entire process from the use of raw material till the production

of plastic bags. The whole chain needs the verification and

approval of ESMA.

All plastics that are biodegradable

will bear a “Mark of Conformity” or a logo that shows they meet

the government standards. The logo has been approved by ESMA’s

Board of Director, chaired by Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, also

Minister of Environment and Water.

Plastic bags pose

danger to the environment because some chemicals in the

material are toxic and take thousand years to break down. The

toxic substance enters the food chain by seeping into the soil

during its breakdown process, and causes a threat to animals

and birds where they may either ingest or choke to death by

plastic wraps.

Half the camel deaths each year in the

UAE are due to camels ingesting plastic bags, according to a

study by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Globally, the detrimental effects of plastics in the

environment have been well-documented. The UN Environment

Programme (UNEP) estimated in 2006 that every square mile of

ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic and that 70

per cent to 80 per cent of reported marine debris worldwide is


A UNEP study shows that plastic debris causes

the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well

as more than 100,000 marine mammals.

In 1992 the U.S.

alone produced 60 billion pounds of thermoplastic. That number

doubled to 120 billion per year. Every year some 5.5

quadrillion (5.5×1015) plastic pellets—about 250 billion pounds

of them—are produced worldwide for use in the manufacture of

plastic products.

The UAE and the GCC are on the

forefront of countries preserving the environment, and their

adherence to environment measures also enhances their global

competitive edge.

Under the UAE Technical Regulation

5009: 2009 – Standard and Specification for Ox biodegradation

of Plastic Bags and other disposable Plastic Objects, Oxo-

Biodegradable additives have to be added during the

manufacturing stage of the plastic bags to speed up the

degradation process of these plastics.

According to a

study conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Water,

nearly 12 billion plastic bags are used a year in the UAE. In

Abu Dhabi, plastic makes up 19 per cent of domestic waste in

the city, according to the Centre for Waste Management.

The UAE launched a nation-wide campaign in October 2009 to

reduce non-biodegradable plastic bags in four phases, after a

survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Water

showed that plastic bags and other plastic material added to

10.9% of the total amount of household waste a year.


four phases involved education and awareness at the public and

academic levels, finding alternatives to plastic bags and

setting of legalities by authorities. The final phase involves

the actual move to reduce and prevent the manufacture of

plastic bags by year 2013.

Ame Info

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