Abu Dhabi’s largest mall, is partnering with leading environmental organizations to raise awareness about the devastating impact of plastic pollution. Together with the Emirates Wildlife Society, World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Yas Mall will launch a ‘Rethink Plastic’ campaign offering visitors the opportunity to exchange plastic bags for eco-friendly shopping bags and make a visible commitment to reduce plastic waste by signing a pledge wall.
Plastic bags only serve their purpose for an average of 30 minutes before they are thrown away. This leads to huge amounts of plastic waste ending up in nature every year. Plastic is derived from petroleum and hydrocarbons and is extremely difficult to break down, some plastics can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Global studies tell us plastic waste causes death over 100,000 marine animals and 1 million marine birds every year. According to Tadweer – The Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi, 19% of the emirate’s waste is plastic blown by the wind into beach, desert and forest environments.
Yas Mall, EWS-WWF and EAD’s ‘Rethink Plastic’ campaign, which will run from 12 – 15 September 2018, aims to increase awareness of the harmful effects of plastic pollution, the consequences of throwing away plastic bags and how households can change the growing problem of unnecessary waste.
Commenting on the campaign, Shatha Al Romaithy, Director of Marketing at Yas Mall, said: “Overall, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year, which is equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute. We feel it is our duty to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment in which we operate which is why we are pleased to partner with EWS-WWF and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi to launch the ‘Rethink Plastic’ campaign. We hope that by providing complimentary recyclable canvas shopping bags for visitors to the mall, we can contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and the long-term sustainability of our environment.”
To try and encourage repeated use, Yas Mall has partnered with social media personalities Ola Al Fares and Bin Baz, to create stylish and practical canvas bags. Visitors to the mall can simply bring used plastic bags to Yas Mall’s Town Square and trade them in for a more sustainable replacement bag. With the choice of several stunning designs, customers can use the canvas bag countless times, eradicating the need for single use plastic bags. To make a visible commitment to this worthwhile cause, Yas Mall will also ask that shoppers make a pledge on the pledge wall and make a commitment to how they will continue to re-think plastic.
Khansa Al Blouki, Acting Director, Environmental Outreach, Environmental Information, Science & Outreach Management Sector at EAD, said: “We need to work together to beat plastic pollution and reduce the excessive use of single use plastic, which pollutes our oceans, harms our terrestrial and marine environment and threatens human health. We need to shift to more sustainable alternatives. To do this, we require collaboration between government, the private sector and NGOs. At EAD, we work very closely with the Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF to tackle plastic pollution. We have set clear goals including to stop plastics getting into the environment in an uncontrolled way where they cause harm, to eliminate the use of avoidable plastics such as the multiple packaging, plastic cutlery that never gets used and straws and to segregate and recycle as much plastic as is economically feasible – remanufacturing it into something useful.”
Abdulla Al Nuiami, Director of Business Development & Marketing at EWS-WWF, commented: “We are delighted to join hands with Yas Mall on this event which will increase awareness among the local community on this important issue. We encourage everyone to rethink their daily habits and reduce their reliance on disposable items that are hard to recycle and may end up in landfill or polluting our natural environment. The small action of not using single use plastic bags when shopping could make an enormous difference to the safety of our wildlife and the beauty of our natural world. Plastic pollution can be solved but only if we act together. Here’s what you can do as a citizen: 1. Choose, when possible, products made of biodegradable or recycled materials. Eg. wooden hair combs or clothes pegs; glass storage containers, cotton napkins; etc. 2. Avoid disposable products like plastic straws, single-use bags, crockery and cutlery. 3. Buy unpackaged products: buy fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish sold loose/by weight, to minimize packaging waste.”
As part of its commitment to the environment and to sustainability, Yas Mall has introduced a series of eco-friendly initiatives over the year including bio-degradable gift cards. Last year, Yas Mall also launched a Green Tenant Award, which seeks to educate its retailers efficient waste management and reward the most environmentally friendly outlets.