FAB takes aim at single-use plastics in corporate offices
- Plastic waste is a problem for all businesses, including in corporate settings as well for retail
- UAE’s largest bank has committed to removing single-use plastic from all operations and supply chain
- Plastic reduction is closely aligned to achieving net zero targets on greenhouse gas emissions
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE's largest bank and one of the world's largest and safest financial institutions, is setting a high standard in reducing the use of single-use plastics across its office and branch network, supporting UAE efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate plastic waste as an environmental pollutant.
From 1 June 2022, Abu Dhabi has banned single-use plastic bags across the emirate, and Dubai is instituting a 25 fils tariff on each bag from 1 July to reduce their use. However, while single-use bags from retailers are a significant and highly visible source of plastic waste, office settings are also a significant contributor.
Plastic cups at the water-cooler or coffee machine, plastic straws and single-use cutlery or plates and bowls in the staff pantry, and coffee-stirrers – these are all widespread in UAE workplaces and can make up a large part of the waste emptied out by cleaners each evening.
“More than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide every year, and half of this is for single-use plastics,” explains Shargiil Bashir, Chief Sustainability Officer at FAB. “A report to the World Government Summit in 2019 showed that the UAE alone consumes a staggering 11 billion plastic bags each year. That’s the equivalent of 1,184 plastic bags for each person every year, compared with a global average of 307 plastic bags per person.”
Such high consumption, combined with limited recycling options, means that significant volumes of plastic is dumped into the environment. Because plastic waste accumulates without breaking down, by 2050 it is expected that for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean, there will be one tonne of plastic. Plastic production also has a heavy carbon footprint.
“The carbon footprint of plastic production has been estimated at two gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent worldwide – around 4.5 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions,” says Shargiil Bashir. “Reducing our plastic use, particularly for single-use plastics, can provide an immediate reduction in our emissions as a business.”
As a major financial institution, FAB aims to be a pacesetter in sustainability for the UAE banking sector. In 2021 FAB became the first UAE bank to join the international Net Zero Banking Alliance, and the first to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
FAB recognises that single-use plastics have become one of the largest causes of environmental pollution and are a matter of immense global concern. FAB fully supports the ban on plastic bags across Abu Dhabi, which strongly aligns with the FAB Group ‘Single-use Plastic Policy’ committing to the removal of single-use plastic from group operations, activities, and supply chain.
FAB’s policy, introduced in 2020, followed FAB becoming a signatory to the Declaration to Clean Abu Dhabi Marine Environment and it reinforces a group-wide campaign to #Rethink Plastic. FAB continues to build on its policies for plastic use, and will redouble its efforts in line with increased commitment from the UAE leadership and international stakeholders.
Practical initiatives include community partnerships. In one display of support, FAB has partnered with Abu Dhabi Coop supermarkets to organise volunteers to distribute reusable bags to customers during June, smoothing the transition away from disposable bags. FAB also steadily works to help inform colleagues and customers on the issues related to plastic use, and what we as individuals can do to solve them.
Initiatives on plastics and emissions are important parts of FAB’s commitment to protecting the environment through clear sustainability policies, and the bank applies international best practice and recognised standards to ensure proper environmental management and impact reduction.