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Shoppers in Dubai will have to pay 25fills per plastic bag from July 1. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: As earlier announced, Dubai will introduce a charge of 25 fils for single-use plastic bags beginning July 1, with the aim of completely banning these bags in two years’ time.

The move comes “to limit single-use bags to enhance environmental sustainability,” the Dubai Executive Council previously tweeted. The tariff on single-use bags is currently in effect in over 30 countries, and a partial or complete ban has been implemented in more than 90 countries worldwide.

On Friday, the Dubai Municipality has issued a comprehensive guideline and clarifications regarding the ban on plastic bags:

Plastic bags ban-1653043235174

What is covered by the decision?

The tariff will be applied to all single-use bags used to carry goods at the point of purchase according to the following specifications: Each bag is less than 57 micrometers thick; it also includes bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials

Does the tariff apply to single-use plastic bags only?

As for other bags, it should be noted that alternatives often have a larger environmental footprint than plastic bags but are easier to manage at the disposal stage and cause less environmental and health damage, provided they are used properly. For example, the production of paper bags is also harmful to the environment and leads to the cutting of large quantities of trees and the consumption of great resources and energy, and therefore its use also requires paying the imposed fees. Single-use plastic bags have a lower environmental footprint than paper bags in the manufacturing stage, but their damages lie in the disposal stage. We need to use paper bags at least three to seven times to have a lower environmental impact than non-recyclable plastic bags that carry goods.

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Why was a tariff imposed on single-use bags and what are the benefits of the decision?

Disposable bags for carrying goods are a major source of litter and pollution in our environment. These bags do not decompose until after a very long period of time, and are used only once — perhaps twice — before they are disposed of. Most of them are only used once to carry goods from the store to the home.

For example, single-use bags take 400 years to decompose and thousands of years to reduce their negative effects. A study from a local authority found that about 86 per cent of the sea turtles that were found dead on the beaches of some emirates in the country had consumed plastic materials thinking they were jellyfish. These bags may also cause blockage of the digestive tract and the death of some animals, such as camels, goats and deer. A study from the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency found that 50 per cent of the dead camels had consumed plastic.

Does the store have to abide by the 25 Fils per bag tariff?

All stores must apply a tariff of 25 fils for each single-use bag, and a different tariff can be placed on sustainable (reusable) alternatives if provided by the store.

Can paper bags be used as a free alternative?

The tariff applies to all single-use bags for carrying goods, including paper bags with a thickness of less than 57 micrometers, and stores are not obligated to provide free alternatives as the goal is to push a change in consumer behaviour in order to preserve the local environment.

Is the tariff mandatory on the shops or is it optional?

The tariff is mandatory for all stores that use single-use bags to carry goods.

Is it possible to provide bags of another quality as an alternative to plastic bags?

Yes, but the tariff applies to the alternatives if the specifications match the single-use bags for carrying goods

When will the tariff be applied? And when will the circulation of bags be banned in general?

The tariff will be applied starting from July 1, 2022 until the complete ban within two years.

Is there a deadline to organise the work mechanism and cover the needs of the decision?

Yes, there is a period of four months for the application of the tariff, and then two years to ban the use of single-use bags. The prohibited goods will be determined at a later time.

How is the tariff reflected on the purchase invoice?

It can be added like any other item recorded on the invoice at the time of purchase.

Is there a limit on the number of bags sold per consumer?

There is no cap on the number of bags sold per consumer, but it is recommended that employees at payment points be trained to rationalise the use of bags when packing and delivering purchases.

Is the tariff calculated even if the consumer brings his own bags?

The tariff is not calculated if the consumer brings his own bags.

To whom does the transfer of revenues from single-use bags belong?

Transfer of revenue belongs to the private sector and it is recommend that it be donated to support sustainable initiatives either through the company or through local environmental and community associations.