x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

More than 20,000 expected for clean-up

Thursday's seventh annual Clean Up UAE Campaign is expected to be the biggest yet, with more than 20,000 volunteers picking up rubbish across the country.

Thursday's seventh annual Clean Up UAE Campaign is expected to be the biggest yet, with more than 20,000 volunteers picking up rubbish across the country. At least 21,000 volunteers are expected to take part in picking up rubbish at 44 locations during the event organised by the Dubai-based Emirates Environmental Group (EEG).

"It will be the biggest clean-up yet," said Habiba al Marashi, chairwoman of the EEG. Businesses, schools and families are ready for the clean-up, which last year removed 114 tonnes of rubbish, she said. The clean-up also aims to educate the public about the challenges facing the environment and to encourage them to act in a more eco-friendly way. Environmental activists urged people earlier this month not to pollute wadis and beaches as they holiday this winter.

Used picnic items such as plastic bottles, bags, glass, polystyrene cups and plates are the items most commonly left as litter. Discarded batteries, which are frequently found, pose environmental risks as they contain toxic substances which eventually leak and pollute the soil, threatening underground water resources. Plastic causes the greatest environmental damage. Animals that eat it often die slowly and painfully because it cannot pass through their digestive systems and calcifies into large lumps.

Scientists estimate 100,000 marine mammals and a million birds die from plastic ingestion every year. The impact on land animals, including camels, is also significant. Doctors at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai find animals dying from plastic ingestion every day. Dr Ulrich Wernery, the scientific director at the laboratory, regularly finds rocks of calcified plastic weighing from 10kg to 60kg in animal stomachs.

A privately-owned giraffe weighing more than a tonne died recently because of plastic calcifying in its stomach, probably as a result of chewing plastic ropes. The clean-up campaign is held in association with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, Friends of the Environment Society Abu Dhabi, the Federal Environmental Agency, Ras al Khaimah Free Zone Authority, Municipality and Planning Department Ajman, Fujairah Municipality and Umm al Quwain Municipality.

Several businesses are supporting the event, including Al Safi Club for Friends of the Environment and Union Properties the overall sponsors. Individuals and companies wishing to take part can find information on the group's website http://www.eeg-uae.org. vtodorova@thenational.ae