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Virgin Mobile UAE becomes first operator to introduce biodegradable SIM cards in UAE

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Virgin Mobile UAE has become the first telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates to introduce and offer new eco-friendly, biodegradable SIM cards, a statement released on Monday revealed.

The operator, part of the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) which is also the parent company of du telecommunications, said in a statement that the new biodegradable SIMs are the most sustainable option available for UAE customers whose devices cannot yet accept eSIMs, which require no plastic at all.

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In line with the UAE’s Green Agenda 2030 and Net-Zero 2050 initiative to create a greener, more sustainable economy, Virgin Mobile UAE plans to progressively phase out single-use plastic SIM cards.

“We all need to work together to ensure a collective effort towards building a better future. Virgin Mobile UAE has achieved net-zero carbon emissions for its operations last year, and we are on a mission to become carbon negative,” Virgin Mobile Managing director Rob Beswick was quoted as saying in a statement.

The new eco-friendly SIM cards are made of an oxo-biodegradable plastic that breaks down into tiny piece and slowly degrades in the presence of oxygen and UV light. When placed in a landfill, the degradation process can take as little as four to six months, a significant improvement when compared to the estimated hundreds of years normal plastics take to decompose.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) estimates that at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, impacting fragile ecosystems.

“While we are moving towards the use of biodegradable SIM cards that decompose without a trace and it is a key step in the right direction, the move to eSIMs, whereby there is no physical sim card, remains the most sustainable option,” added Beswick.

Because each SIM card needs to be punched out of a credit-card sized piece of plastic, which is then disposed of, the telecoms industry has contributed a great deal to plastic waste. With a consistent rise in demand for SIM cards, this waste is only increasing.

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