Dubai: Shoppers in the UAE will soon have to make a conscious effort to factor in the environmental impact of their trips to the supermarket or mall. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are introducing a ban on single-use plastic bags, with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint of users in the country.
But which bags will you need to stop using? And how will the alternatives work? Here is all you need to know.
From the month of June, single-use plastic bags will be banned in Abu Dhabi. The ban was announced on April 6, by the Abu Dhabi Media Office, and is in line with the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi’s (EAD) single-use plastic policy that was introduced in 2020.
EAD outlined which products are covered by the single-use plastic policy:
Will all plastics be banned?
Currently, only single-use plastic bags will be banned starting June 1, 2022.
In this context, EAD is planning to implement measures to reduce demand for about 16 single-use plastic products that include cups, stirrers, lids and cutlery.
What kind of plastic bags will be banned from June 1?
Single-use plastic grocery shopping bags.
What about other types of bags used in supermarkets?
The ban is only on single-use plastic shopping bags. Thin bags like the ones used for meat or vegetables are exempt.
What about trash bags and bin liners or pharmacy bags?
These are not included in the ban stated in the released regulation.
What bags can I use when grocery shopping?
Reusable bags that have the least environmental impact will be offered from the retailer, regardless of the material they are made of. You will also be able to bring your own reusable bags.
Do I have to pay for the alternative bag?
Currently, there are no environmental fees or charges on the alternatives. EAD encourages you to bring your own bags and avoid purchase, if any.
Earlier this year, Dubai, too, had announced a tariff on single-use bags. As per the announcement in February, the policy will come into effect on July 1, 2022, in all stores operating in Dubai including restaurants, pharmacies and e-commerce deliveries.
Which plastic bags will be banned?
The plastic bags that are being gradually phased out are single-use bags used to carry goods at the point of purchase, according to the following specifications:
1. Bag which are less than 57 micrometers thick
2. This includes bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials.
Can I pay to still use the bags?
From July 1, 2022, you will need to pay 25 fils for each single-use bag. However, over the next two years, these bags will be banned altogether.
Which bags can I use instead?
According to Dubai Municipality, even alternatives to single-use bags have an ecological footprint, and you should use them accordingly, to ensure you are helping the environment. For example, using a paper bag instead of a single-use plastic bag will have a bigger ecological footprint, if you use it just once. According to Dubai Municipality, you would need to use a paper bag at least three to seven times to have a lower environmental impact than a non-recyclable plastic bag that carries goods.
Similarly, you need to be aware of the ecological footprint for each alternative and ensure you reuse them enough number of times, to not have a negative affect on the environment.
Here is a breakdown of the number of times an alternative should be used:
• Paper bag – seven times at least.
• Recycled plastic bag – use the bag at least four times.
• Cotton fabric bag – use it at least 131 times.
If you do not use these alternatives enough number of times, you will end up having a larger environmental footprint compared to using single-use bags.