The UAE has approved 22 policies aimed at accelerating the country’s transition to a circular economy, as part of its push towards sustainable economic development.

The UAE Circular Economy Council’s policies will focus on four main sectors: manufacturing, food, infrastructure and transport, the government said on Sunday.

“Our current linear economy consumes valuable materials and resources without being able to benefit from them after use, which represents waste in the modern concept of sustainability,” said Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security.

“Our approach seeks to protect our environment and to ensure the long-term economic and social prosperity of our country.”

The UAE, which has pledged to reach its net-zero carbon goal by 2050, has announced measures to drive sustainable economic growth and work towards its climate change targets.

A circular economy is an economic system that focuses on reducing the extraction of natural resources, minimising waste and regenerating natural systems. Raw materials, components and products keep their value for as long as possible, while renewable energy sources are used to fuel economic activity.

Adopting circular economy principles could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, according to the Global Commission on Economy and Climate.

Last week, the Abu Dhabi government said it would invest Dh10 billion ($2.72bn) to double the size of its manufacturing sector by 2031. To support this, it will develop a new circular economy regulatory framework to ensure that the industry is operating on a sustainable basis.

The UAE Circular Economy Council approved the 22 policies during its second meeting this year.

During the meeting, the council highlighted eight relevant trends, including waste-to-resource, reuse, artificial intelligence, remanufacturing, bio-based materials and repair work.

It also identified at least 16 circular economy activities that open opportunities for businesses, such as upcycling textile waste into new products, developing artificial intelligence-enabled waste management solutions and remanufacturing electronic waste.

“Many key stakeholders in the UAE have already started to embrace circular economy principles,” the minister said.

With 45 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions resulting from manufacturing cars, clothes, food and other products used daily, the circular economy has great potential to reduce emissions and mitigate the climate crisis, she said.

The committee continues to implement the UAE Circular Economy Policy 2021-2031 through programmes and projects that are set to attract investments to this field, said Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy and head of the council’s Circular Economy Policies Committee.

“Efforts are also being exerted to establish a circular economy database, in addition to offering incentives to encourage the private sector to shift towards clean production methods, thereby enhancing the UAE’s competitiveness as one of the leading circular economies regionally and globally,” he said.

Approved in January 2021, the UAE Circular Economy Policy identifies the best approach to the country’s transition to a circular economy. Its objectives include building a sustainable economy and promoting efficient use of natural resources. It also encourages the private sector to shift to cleaner industrial production methods by using AI and other advanced technologies.

The UAE Circular Economy Council comprises 17 representatives of federal and local government entities, private sector businesses and international organisations.

Source: The National News