Dubai residents and retailers have welcomed a new green charge on single-use bags, which strives to cut back on waste and safeguard the environment.
A mandatory fee of 25 fils ($0.07) on the purchase of each bag was implemented on Friday, June 1.
Earlier, the bags were given out free of cost to shoppers in stores.
The charge applies to all bags made of paper, plastic, plant-based biodegradable and biodegradable plastic materials that are around 57 micrometres thick.
This is the first step in a strategy to ban all single-use bags in the UAE in the next two years.
A South African, Eric Smith, who was shopping in the Geant hypermarket in Dubai Hills Mall on Friday, June 1, stated, “The less plastic, the better. It is good news because we have to make an effort to lessen the amount of plastic waste we produce.”
Similar tariffs on single-use bags are implemented in over 30 countries around the globe, with complete or partial bans in over 90 nations.
On June 1, Abu Dhabi was the first city in the Middle East to ban the use of single-use plastic bags entirely.
According to the UN Environment Programme, almost 300 million tonnes of plastic pollution are created worldwide. Less than 9% of that ever ends up being recycled. The rest particularly finds its way to landfills, dumps and natural environments.
The UN also predicted that oceans will contain more plastic than fish by the end of 2050 unless the situation is reversed.
Supermarkets are providing a raft of other options to single-use plastic bags, from recycled options to other paper bags.
Geant is providing a portion of the earnings from the plastic bag charge to Emirates Nature-WWF.
The retail president of Geant’s parent group GMG Consumer, Marc Laurent, said, “From providing paper bags to reusable containers in our ‘grab-and-go’ section, we are dedicated to making a positive social, environmental, and economic effect on the future of the retail food industry.”
The yellow plastic bags provided by Spinneys have been a shared vision around the UAE over the years; however, they were nowhere to be found on Friday morning.