The ban is only on single-use plastic shopping bags Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: In less than two months, Abu Dhabi is set to ban the use of single-use plastic bags. The upcoming policy is a first in the region, and will is part of a series of moves that will accelerate climate action in the UAE.

The ban was announced earlier this month by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s environment sector regulator, and was roundly welcomed by residents and companies alike. Ahead of its implementation, the EAD has clarified a few more pertinent facts about the use of plastics during shopping trips.

Will all plastics be banned?

Currently, only single-use plastic bags will be banned starting June 1, 2022.

What kind of plastic bags will be banned?

Single-use plastic grocery shopping bags only.

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 exempted.

What about trash bags, bin liners, or pharmacy bags?

They 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 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. We encourage you to bring your own bags and avoid purchase, if any [is required].

What this means

Single-use plastics are made primarily from fossil fuel–based chemicals and are meant to be disposed right after use. They are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags.

The EAD has clearly stated in its announcement that the ban that will come into effect on June 1 applies only to single-use plastic shopping bags, and that its implementation will not yet apply to other single-use plastic products.

At the same time, the authority is working to reduce, and eventually phase out, the use of 16 other types of disposable plastic products, including cutlery, cups, lids and stirrers. A plan is also in place to ban Styrofoam cutlery by 2024.


Retailers across the emirate have already begun offering shopping bags made of other materials, including paper and fabric, with some charging customers nominal fees. The EAD has however encouraged residents to use bring their own reusable bags when shopping in order to avoid any additional charges for shopping bags.

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Other initiatives

Earlier this year, Dubai also announced that it will introduce a charge of 25 fils for single-use plastic bags from July 1 onwards, with the aim of banning these bags completely in two years’ time.

At present, there are bans on single-use plastic bags in more than 90 countries, and charges on their use in more than 30 nations.