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Tuesday / November 13.

UAE businesses sign pledge to reduce plastic pollution

Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Indian Embassy co-host event marking World Environment Day

Dubai: A number of leading businesses in the UAE signed a pledge on Tuesday to reduce plastic pollution in their operations in a bid to step up action on plastic.

The pledge was made during a co-hosted landmark event by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Indian Embassy marking World Environment Day 2018 at the ministry’s headquarters in Dubai.

On a global level, this year’s edition of the UN’s annual day of environmental awareness and action is hosted by India under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

High-level officials from leading businesses in the UAE, including LuLu Group International, Aster DM Healthcare, Apparel Group, BRS Ventures and others, attended the event and signed a pledge that they were going to contribute in the reduction of plastic pollution through the adoption of sustainable practices.

Speaking at the event, Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, called on all attendees to support and commit to reducing plastic pollution through adopting smarter habits and more efficient practices to make planet earth green again.

“Only that will make this World Environment Day truly meaningful,” he said.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “While plastic may be an essential component in many modern industries in the world and has proven economic value in securing our livelihoods, we now realise the dire need to strike a balance between its economic value and protecting the environment against its adverse effects through opting for greener choices when using and disposing of plastic.”

Meanwhile, Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, praised the response from the Indian business community and their strong commitment to the cause. “We are delighted to join hands with the Minister of Climate Change and Environment to launch the Beat Plastic Pollution campaign in the UAE,” he said.

On World Environment Day, LuLu Group announced that it has introduced high-quality reusable shopping bags through their hypermarkets to spread awareness about the issue. It also has developed incentive schemes to encourage regular use of the shopping bags, which are lifetime free.

What leading corporates are doing to address problem

■  James Varghese, regional director of LuLu Group, said: “LuLu Group has always been a key promoter of sustainability and environment protection, and we have over the years initiated many projects in this direction.”

Varghese added that they will continue their efforts to reduce plastic pollution in the UAE, the wider region, and globally.

■  Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director at Aster DM Healthcare, said their efforts are always directed towards adoption of innovative measures that not only preserve the health of their patients and customers but also enhance the environment in which they live.

One such effort has been the launch of the UAE’s first green pharmacy by Aster Retail, an eco-friendly store built with sustainable recyclable material.

“Through this pharmacy, we are setting new standards and practices in place — replacing plastic bags for customers with recyclable and eco-friendly paper bags. Our aim is to replace plastic bags with paper bags across all our pharmacies in UAE,” he said.

Aster DM also introduced another project in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and Dubai Health Authority, to encourage good health and dental hygiene awareness among schoolchildren and support the use of eco-friendly Woobamboo toothbrushes as opposed to plastic ones. Till date, 12,000 children have benefited from the programme and the aim is to reach out to 30,000 children this year.

■  Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group, said: “Our goal, at the Apparel Group, is to significantly reduce plastic use. In 2010, we launched our loyalty programme, which was plastic free. Today our scheme, which we call ‘No Cards, Only Rewards’, has over 2.2 million members. Another measure that we took was handing out reusable water bottles to our employees, as we consume about 2.5 million one-use water bottles in our offices every year.”

via GN