Employee from a company delivering water bottles to customers home in Sharjah. Image Credit: VIRENDRA SAKLANI/XPRESS

Dubai: Dubai consumers can now know if their five-gallon water bottles are new, overused, or whether they need to be discarded thanks to the smart labels and tracking system that is now mandatory for all such bottles produced and sold in the emirate beginning on April 1.

Dubai Municipality has made it mandatory for all plastic five-gallon water bottles circulating in the emirate to have a smart sticker for tracking purposes as part of the civic body’s smart control system.

“This system includes multiple features such as a unique laser code printing on each package as a “unique mark” that cannot be deleted or changed. A smart sticker will be placed on the lid of each bottle each time it is packaged in the production line,” Dawood Al Hajiri (right), director-general of Dubai Municipality, said.

“This label is equipped with digital technologies and secure features similar to those used to protect bank notes from forgery,” he added.

Khalid Sharif Al Awadi, assistant director-general for Environment, Health and Safety Control Sector, said the system of transparency allows for consumers to protect themselves as they can check the details of their five-gallon bottles through their phones.

Each bottle can only be refilled up to a maximum of 33 times, as per municipality’s safety standards, to ensure the safety of the water in the container.

Frequent usage and washing of plastic containers beyond the standard prescribed use may cause breakdown of the plastic material, especially if it’s being washed at high heat, according to research.

Al Awadi said consumers can download the app called “Water SmarTrace” on their smart phones run on Apple and Android operating systems.

“With this app, the consumer will be able to scan the smart sticker on the water package and obtain the required confidence on the product and packaging that it meets the approved standards. In addition, some package-related data such as factory name, product brand, date and time of production will be displayed,” he said.

If consumers spot a problem with the bottle, they can directly alert Dubai Municipality through the app.

“The consumer can also report about any product using this app, which provides a feature to determine the cause of the problem from a checklist, as well as the possibility of taking a picture of the container with the subject of the communication and location of the message instantly. This enhances the consumer’s role as an active partner in the control process,” Al Awadi said.

This technology will also facilitate and speed up current monitoring and inspection process. Inspectors will be given specialised inspection devices for use in product control along the production and distribution chain, which gives access to all detailed information related to the package.

He added that the implementation of the project was carried out with the participation of one of the world’s leading companies in the field of providing smart solutions for tracking and authentication, which ensures that goods and services conform to the approved standards.

How it works

1) Download the “Water SmarTrace” app on your phone.

Locate the Smart Label on top of the no-splash cap. The label has holographic colours from gold to green. Take note that the label must be intact before you scan it.

2) To scan a bottle, line up the data matrix within the frame on the app.

3) The app will display different data including the date of manufacture of the plastic container, the number of times the bottle has been refilled, as well as specific water quality standards.

4) If your water bottling company does not comply with the regulation or have any violations, you can report it directly to Dubai Municipality through the app by selecting the ‘Report An Issue’ option. The municipality will investigate the matter and take appropriate action. Your personal data will be kept confidential.