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Dubai retailers say that they are ready to implement the emirate’s total ban on all single-use bags from June 1 Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: Several retailers in Dubai have expressed their readiness to implement the emirate’s total ban on all single-use bags from June 1.

Dubai will stop allowing shops to provide customers with single-use plastic bags for a fee of 25 fils and impose a total ban on all single-use bags from June 1 as part of a policy to phase out various single-use products by 2026.

According to Dubai Municipality, the single-use plastic bags will remain chargeable only until May 31. All single-use bags that are 57 microns and under are included in the ban, regardless of the material used.

Violators of the ban will be fined Dh200. If the same violation occurs within one year, the penalty will be doubled, with a maximum of Dh2,000.

Retailers Gulf News spoke to ahead of the ban explained how they are prepared for the big switch to reusable bags by ditching single-use plastic bags and other single-use bags.

Range of alternatives

Dr Suhail Al Bastaki

Dr Suhail Al Bastaki, director, corporate communication department, Union Coop, which runs 27 outlets in Dubai, stated: “Union Coop fully supports the Executive Council of the emirate of Dubai’s policy to ban all single-use bags starting June 1, 2024. From that date, all our retail outlets will comply with the new regulation by offering a range of environmentally sustainable alternatives, such as reusable cloth bags and other eco-friendly options.”

He pointed out that the ban is a “crucial step towards reducing wastage and creating a cleaner, greener environment for Dubai, which will as usual lead the world by example.”

“We are committed to supporting this initiative and encourage our customers to embrace these changes for a more sustainable future. We already are offering eco-friendly alternatives in our branches for consumers. It should also be noted that Union Coop was one of the first entities to implement the ‘limitation’ on the sale of single-use plastic bags from July 2022, also in line with the Executive Council of Dubai’s move to introduce a tariff on single-use plastic bags,” added Al Bastaki.

Warwick Gird

Warwick Gird, general manager, marketing, at Spinneys, said Spinneys had removed single-use shopping bags from its stores in mid-2022, two years ahead of the ban. “We were the first retailer in the UAE to introduce 100 per cent post-consumer recycled material bags. These bags are reusable, recyclable and charged at Dh1. We will continue to offer these bags to our customers.”

Moreover, he said the company, which runs 56 outlets in the UAE including 39 in Dubai, also rewards customers for bringing reusable bags by offering them 25 fils off of their shopping bill.

Multi-use paper bags

Meanwhile, Kamal Vachani, partner and group director of Al Maya Group, which has 47 branches of which 30 are in Dubai, said: “We are moving towards sustainability and going green to save the environment. We are grateful to the UAE authorities for this great initiative. In line with the governments’ efforts in ensuring sustainability and saving the environment, we shall be shifting from single-use plastic bags towards paper bags which can be used multiple times. These bags will be available in two sizes, small and large.”

Kamal Vachani

He said these bags will be charged minimally. “The customers will have the choice to bring their own bags which is the path towards sustainability. If the customers prefer to pay, then he/she will be purchasing the bags for usage,” he added.

He said these bags will be charged minimally. “The customers will have the choice to bring their own bags which is the path towards sustainability. If the customers prefer to pay, then he/she will be purchasing the bags for usage,” he added.

Reusable plastic bags

Lulu Group, which runs 110 outlets in the UAE including over 60 in Dubai, said the group’s outlets have already switched to reusable plastic bags permitted for use by the municipality.

Nandakumar V

“Our shopping bags are already of higher microns and reusable as per the guidelines by the municipality. For the last one year, we have been providing these types of reusable bags to our customers for a charge of 25 fils. We have completely switched from single use-plastic shopping bags to these bags. Now, we are encouraging our customers to reuse these and other reusable bags for shopping,” said Nandakumar V, director, marketing and communications at Lulu Group International.

He said the group has also introduced multiple varieties of reusable bags made of cloth, jute and recycled products. “These are available for purchase at our outlets starting from 25 fils to Dh7.”

Lulu is also doing multiple campaigns through in-store channels and social media to educate shoppers about the importance of switching to reusable bags. “We will soon roll out another campaign to incentivise customers using reusable bags by way of giving additional loyalty points,” Nandakumar added.

Smaller supermarkets

Some smaller supermarkets have also switched to reusable plastic bags of above 57 microns. Subair ACK, manager of four outlets of Shua Al Madina supermarkets, said the outlets have placed bulk orders to make a complete shift to these thicker bags.

Subair ACK

“We have just started using these bags. We are also considering importing reusable cloth bags from India. We are happy to withdraw the single-use plastic bags on different counts apart from the environmental benefits. Some of our customers were upset that we had started charging them extra for those bags. Now, we don’t have to charge them and they will start reusing the new bags.”

He said the 25 fils tariff had helped cut the consumption of single-use plastic bags. “Some customers started bringing their own reusable bags while many others reduced the number of bags used. Earlier, some customers used to take extra plastic bags for using them as garbage bags at home. They stopped that habit after the introduction of the 25 fils fee and our expenses for purchasing the single-use plastic bags had also reduced.”

Preparing packaging sector

Abdul Jebbar PB,

Speaking about how the packaging industry is geared up for the ban, Abdul Jebbar PB, group managing director of Hotpack Global, said it signifies a pivotal moment for companies like his to demonstrate preparedness and adaptability.

“I am proud to share that approximately 97 per cent of Hotpack’s products are already sustainable, being reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable or a combination of these. Our Research and Development team continues to identify new products and genuinely green technologies to further minimise our ecological footprint, showcasing our proactive approach to sustainability.”

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To ensure that customers have access to affordable eco-friendly alternatives, he said, the company has undertaken several strategic initiatives, such as developing a wide range of sustainable products that incorporate recycled content and are fully recyclable, introducing 100 per cent post-consumer recycled shopping bags and investing in biodegradable packaging plants in Malaysia.