Dubai: Dubai residents have welcomed the government’s decision to introduce a 25 fils tariff on single-use carry bags, which came into effect from today, July 1.
The charge in Dubai is mandatory for all shops that provide single-use bags to carry goods, such as retail stores, restaurants, pharmacies, e-commerce services and delivery services until a complete ban comes into effect in two years from now.
Last month, Abu Dhabi also banned single-use plastic bags. The move came into effect from June 1. The ban is part of the emirate’s policy to gradually decrease the use of 16 other single-use plastic items such as cutlery and lids and also ban Styrofoam products by 2024.
Today, residents were seen paying for single-use plastic bags. Many were also seen carrying their own jute bags or purchasing reusable bags at retail outlets.
They unanimously said that the government’s decision to reduce single-use plastic consumption was a step in the right direction in achieving sustainable living.
British expatriate Jess Alridge, who was shopping for groceries at Carrefour with her sons Spencer and Sebastian, said the move was undoubtedly a good step to sustainable living. “I moved to Dubai eight months ago from the UK. Back home, we are completely green when it comes to shoppings. Even the label tags are free of plastic. It is great to see Dubai take a decision towards sustainable living.”
She said adding a tariff is a sure step to changing mindsets. “I see the city splashing the need to reduce plastic consumption. So this is a great step.”
Alridge was carrying her very own jute bag that she bought back in the UK. “This travels with me everytime I go shopping. As a mother, I feel it is important for me as a parent too to set a good example so my children can adopt a sustainable lifestyle as they grow older.”
Indian student Siddharth Om, 9, a grade 4 student at a private school in Dubai, was shopping with his mother Angaiyarkanni Om at Lulu Al Barsha and the family was carrying a reusable bag, which they bought from the retailer. “For the last three years we are carrying our own jute bag for shopping and have refrained from using plastic bags. We use petroleum to make plastic and burning that produces a lot of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat and that results in global warming. So, this is a good step. The more countries adopt this, the more plastic-free we will be. It will just leave our Earth a better place to live in.”
Sidharth who feels strongly about a sustainable planet, said: “Reusable bags, on the other hand, have many advantages. It is a cheaper option in the long run and can be reused for life.”
Navin Kumar, a Dubai resident, bought his grocery and filled it in a toxic-free bag. He did pay 25 fils for it, but said he would change his shopping style to include a reusable jute bag. “I care for the Earth. The government’s decision to charge 25 fils per bag set me thinking on why this was done in the first place. When I understood the concept, I was baffled to see how much plastic consumption happens worldwide and the negative effect it has on our environment. Going forward, I will not use these plastic bags anymore.”
Retailer aligned with government’s decision
Salim MA, director of Lulu Group, Dubai, said: “We at Lulu are fully aligned with the vision of the government to make Dubai free of “single-use” plastic bags. We have launched a massive awareness campaign through our in-store communication and social media to limit the use of single-use plastic bags and at the same time promote re-usable and sustainable bags. Shoppers can, in fact, buy many different reusable shopping bags made of recycled material, cloth and jute available at affordable prices in all our stores.”
Dubai Union Coop also announced the implementation of the new policy in line with the directives of the Executive Council of Dubai.
Dr Suhail Al Bastaki, director of Happiness and Marketing Department at Union Coop, said: “We are pleased to be among the contributors to supporting the vision of the wise leadership to gradually create a sustainable environment, noting that starting to implement the decision to reduce plastic bags today will have positive effects in changing the behaviour of individuals and avoiding excessive use of plastic.”
He added that the cooperative will offer several options to the consumer in exchange for single-use bags, including environment-friendly cloth bags at competitive prices accessible to everyone, which the consumer can use more than once in his purchasing operations, as most of them are made of materials that can be cleaned, washed and recycled.
He said the ‘Tote’ bags provided by the cooperative can be used several times, which reduce the amount of excessive plastic waste and helps preserve the environment too. As an example, the Tote bags are priced at Dh3.26.
Alternatives to plastic bags
Bernardo Perloiro, chief operating officer for GCC at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “Carrefour is working hard to encourage sustainable shopping behaviours and provide our customers with convenient options for an easy switch. The new government direction will take us a step closer to achieving Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to becoming Net Positive in carbon and water by 2040. It marks another step in our journey to create a lasting impact on the environment as we work together with our customers and the support of the government.”
Meanwhile, at Carrefour, customers can find reusable bags made from paper, juco, and canvas material, which are equivalent to five regular bags. These bags will help customers carry more items.
Carrefour has also launched an incentive by offering bonus SHARE points for purchases of new reusable bags. Any plastic woven bag bought at Carrefour comes with a lifetime guarantee to mitigate excessive plastic consumption and protect the environment.
To provide more choices and raise awareness about responsible shopping, Carrefour has partnered with leading conservation organisation — Emirates Nature-WWF — to design three limited-edition reusable bags priced at Dh11.50. Every bag features an illustration of a threatened marine species in the UAE, highlighting Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Arabian humpback whales and green turtles that can all be found in local waters.
Kamal Vachani, group director and partner, Al Maya Group, said: “It is great to see that an awareness has been created. Many of our customers have started buying jute bags and reusable bags. The mindset is changing and it is great to see this.”
Al Maya Supermarket, too, has displayed a number of options for reusable bags. “Customers have a choice. They can buy cotton bags for Dh2 and Dh4. We have a choice of woven bags too for Dh2 and Dh3. Jute bags are priced from Dh4 to Dh9.”
A charge of 25 fils per bag will be applied to all single-use bags used to carry goods at the point of purchase. This includes bags less than 57 micrometres thick. It includes bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant- based biodegradable materials. Retailers are allowed to charge sustainable (reusable) bags.
Why reduce the use of single-use carry bags?
Single-use carrier bags are a major source of litter and pollution. These bags do not decompose until after a very long period of time. Single-use bags take 400 years to decompose and thousands of years to reduce their negative effects.
Why use reusable shopping bags?
Most multi-use shopping bags are made from material that are cleanable, washable and recyclable.