The world of air travel in the United Arab Emirates is in for some changes with a self-imposed ban on single-use plastics at Dubai International Airport (DXB), the busiest international airport in the world, about to reach its deadline.

Dubai Airports announced earlier in 2019 that two airports in the emirate – DXB and DWC – will soon cease using any single-use plastics to try to minimise the impact on the environment.

Dubai Airports made the announcement back in June and has since been in close collaboration with over 250 of its hospitality and concession partners so that this promise can be fulfilled by the start of 2020.

More than 90 million passengers go through the two airports every year, with tens of thousands of items made from plastic being used, including straws, coffee lids and water bottles.

The decision to ban single-use plastics has resulted in major challenges for everyone associated with the airports.

The EVP Commercial at Dubai Airports, Eugene Barry, says that the move was another step in the company’s long-term goal to become more environmentally responsible.

Dubai Airports and partners such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks and McDonald’s are committed to removing single-use plastics and ensuring that their replacements are appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

The move will be made in phases, with 1st January 2020 seeing the removal of plastic cutlery, takeaway food packaging, polythene bags and drinking straws removed from shops, restaurants and cafés at DXB.

Over the course of the following year, other products will also be replaced both behind the scenes and in customer areas.

The biggest challenge was to find a replacement for plastic bottles, which is one of the most common single-use plastics, Barry admits.

The airports are also increasing the number of recycling facilities available to customers and are entering into a new partnership to ensure that thousands of tonnes of plastic can be correctly disposed of every year.

Additional recycling points will also help with supporting the management of the endless stream of plastic bottles and other waste that comes into the airport on a daily basis, though this is likely to decrease as public awareness grows.

According to a specially commissioned survey of travellers’ recycling habits, people are increasingly aware of the issues surrounding plastics use and recycling, both at home and during travel.

52% of those who responded to the survey in the UAE say that they make use of a reusable water bottle when they travel, with 49% preferring to eat in airport restaurants in order to avoid having to use the plastic packaging used with takeaway food.

32% of UAE survey respondents will not buy items that use materials that cannot be recycled, and 92% believe that airports need to become more vocal about the waste recycling steps they are taking.

Anyone who is intending to fly in or out of the UAE should take out travel insurance before their flight.

Travel insurance ensures that travellers are financially protected in the event of falling ill overseas or having booked flights cancelled unexpectedly.


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