Dubai Municipality launches campaign to slash 500m plastic bags

Dubai Municipality set to launch ‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ campaign in May

Image Credit: Gulf News Archive
Campaign flyers will be distributed to educate consumers about the dangers of using plastic products.
14 Gulf News

Dubai: Municipal officials believe they can slash 500 million plastic bags from being circulated before year’s end through an extensive six-month campaign beginning in May.

Dubai Municipality said on Tuesday that the plinth of its “Say No to Plastic Bags” campaign is a 20 per cent reduction in the estimated 2.9 billion plastic bags used in the emirate every year.

Abdullah Al Gaffari, head of Customer Services Unit of the Waste Management Department, said plastic bags that do not break down naturally are a menace to the environment and take up precious space in landfill sites.

“We’re looking to reduce plastic bags by 20 per cent of the total amount used by the end of the year,” Al Gaffari told Gulf News on Tuesday. “We want to reduce it by a further 15 per cent in 2014 as well.”

Convincing customers to alter their traditional shopping reliance on plastic bags will not happen overnight, he said, and will require constant campaigning through education awareness.

“It is going to be difficult for people to reduce their use of plastic bags. We need to give them an alternative such as re-usable bags made from paper or jute. Anything that can be recycled later on is good,” said Al Gaffari.

Starting in May, campaign staff will fan out across the city to visit major supermarkets every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will offer grocery shoppers one free jute bag to carry their food items. The message is that the same jute bag can be used time and again for future grocery store runs and negates the need for plastic bags, he said.

Campaign flyers will also be distributed to educate consumers about the dangers of using plastic products.

Plastic bags that do not leave stores do not end up in the desert, he said, where “animals are eating the plastic bags and they die from it”.

Estimates suggest that up to half of the camels that die every year in the UAE die from ingesting plastic bags which can lead to massive calcified balls of plastic in the stomachs that eventually kill the animals.

Strewn bags in the marine environment also kill turtles and fish that consume the plastic materials thinking that they are food, he said.

Plastic bags also take forever to break down in the landfill, said Al Gaffari.

“Non-biodegradable plastic bags last forever, 300 to 400 years in the landfill,” he said. “The solution is using paper or jute bags instead.”

The campaign complements prior efforts to substantially reduce or eliminate plastic bags.

The Ministry of Environment and Water, for example, said it will ban in early 2014 non-biodegradable plastic products from being issued in the UAE.

In 2008, Gulf News launched a sweeping public awareness campaign ‘No to Plastic Bags’ to educate its readers about the dangers of plastic bags to humans and wildlife. Gulf News distributed 200,000 jute bags to the public to encourage the use of ecologically sound bags as an alternative to plastic.




  • Haleema

    Apr 24, 2013 5:11

    Say "No" to Normal Plastic Bags Say "YES" toOXO-BIODEGRADABLE Plastic bags!!!

  • Abu

    Apr 24, 2013 3:27

    Great news it works 100% if the municipality strictly made some penaltyto groceries and supermarkets for each plastics bags those amount shoulddeduct from the customer then they start bring their own jute bags forshopping.the deducted amount can be used distributing jute bags free of cost.

  • Hema

    Apr 24, 2013 2:22

    Usage of plastic and its impact on our EARTH and US is known to most ofus. What needs to be looked into is the way people are beingresponsible. There are many occasions when myself and my family ended upin strange looks when we said no to "plastic" in thesupermarkets. Guess one of the ways to reduce plastic wastage is toeducate the staff who pack our purchases in the billing counter. Theycould really play a major role in reducing the use of plastic. If thesuper markets and hypermarkets limit the approval of plastic bags to itsstaff and monitor the usage it would be really great. Yes we ascitizens should do our part of job in refusing,reusing and reducingplastic usage.... In India people have to pay in some places for theplastic covers. So they take jute bags while they are shopping. Guesssomething like these will help out.

  • Bader

    Apr 24, 2013 1:34

    Oxo biodegradable plastic bags is the only answer!

  • Winston Pryce

    Apr 24, 2013 12:46

    Oxo-biodegaradble plastic bags are less expensive and moreenvironmentally friendly than all the alternatives on offer including jute and paper. This was confirmed in a recent report compiled by Intertek for the UK Environment Agency and a suplementary report also prepared by Intertek. In any event, plastic bags comprise a relatively small percentage of our total plastic waste, for which there is no substitute material, in most cases. Oxo-biodegradable plastiic is thebest solution to the problem.

  • Thejas

    Apr 24, 2013 12:42

    When I came to Dubai a couple of months ago I was shocked at the misuse of plastic bags here. India is stricter in terms of usage of plastic bags. Many dept stores back there charge extra money for the bags. So I guess this can act as a deterrent here as well. Also sensitizing the people isvery important. All super markets and stores to be advised on giving out minimal plastic bags.

  • pasha

    Apr 24, 2013 12:31

    Plastic bags should be banned and supermarkets need to provide cheap paper bags or sell paper bags without profit. convincing some one to care about the environment and stop using plastic bags will never work unless they are banned. once banned the manufacturers will come up with alternatives and individuals will start to care about theenvironment. recenly i visted India and there they have banned plastic bags and i could see people carrying their own cloth bags when they went shopping or else they spent money to buy jute bags. this is possible only when plastic bags are completely banned.

  • FR

    Apr 24, 2013 12:28

    UAE should follow Ireland and introduce Dh1 fee for plastic bags along with giving away re-usable bags for free. It worked in Ireland and I'm confident it will work here. Carrot and stick are friends since time immortal.

  • Mohammad Shoaib Ali

    Apr 24, 2013 10:48

    Plastic Bags - To stop the use, first the people who produce them should be shown alternatives to production of plastic bags. It is after all their bread and butter. For outlets who pack your goods in plastic bags - they should be shown alternatives/low cost ways of packing your goods.If not, getting away from Plastic Bags would actually be more costly than cost effective. People here don't care about the long run, that is something that I would say 80% of the world does not care about. Everything is now or never.


    Apr 24, 2013 10:16

    It's a good step for UAE. My suggestion is first those customer that have two or three items should have them packed in paper bags, which should helped to reduceplastic bag consumption.

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Say "No" to Normal Plastic Bags Say "YES" toOXO-BIODEGRADABLE Plastic bags!!!


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