Retail Chains, Malls Ready to Switch to Biodegradable Bags

Lily B. Libo-on
Filed on October 25, 2009

DUBAI/SHARJAH — Hypermarkets, supermarkets and malls in Dubai and Sharjah have voiced support for government’s move to ban plastic bags, saying they have been working on replacing them with reusable jute bags and oxo-biodegradable ones.

Gabriel De Andrade, country head, UAE, of Geant Hypermarket/Le Marche Supermarkets, told Khaleej Times that the ban would have a positive impact on their shoppers and families as this would provide them a much cleaner environment to work and live in.

Geant/Le Marche has been at the forefront in creating awareness of the ill-effects of plastic bags on the environment, he claimed. “In February 2008, we were pioneers in introducing a reimbursable charge on the plastic bags and offering our customers reusable jute bags. The proceeds from the sale of plastic bags have since been donated to the Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wildlife Fund.”

He welcomed the initiative but said, “We feel that paper bags are not the alternative solution as more paper bags would imply deforestation and that would in itself affect the environment. We would rather encourage customers to use reusable jute bags.”

KM Trading, which has a chain of department stores and supermarkets, has expressed its full support to the Ministry of Environment and Water in its effort to make UAE plastic-free.

“We are taking steps to fill the void once the plastic bag is gone. By 2010, all branches of KM Trading all over the UAE will be using oxo-biodegradable bags, which look like plastic bags in form but they are manufactured with a chemical catalyst that would easily degrade them,” said Shelly Francis, corporate marketing manager of KM Group of Companies.

He said nature does not absorb plastic, making it a hazard to the children and the environment. “We have a part in this great movement to make UAE plastic-free. Though we have not received any directive from the UAE government, we are very much prepared.”

Vanessa Danna Lazatin-Steiner, marketing Manager of Mega Mall, said while some retailers have made environmental concern a part of their corporate policy, thus making use of paper bags, the others are yet to adopt and implement this practice.

“Though levels of response from our retailers may vary, Mega Mall welcomes the initiative of the ministry and would strongly support this campaign. It is one thing to be cosmopolitan, but it is another to progress without putting our environment at risk,” she added.

Saeed bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, vice-president, Mega Mall – Citadel Properties, said that being a part of the community, Mega Mall takes its social responsibility seriously. “We support all campaigns by the government which promote healthier environment and vigorous life. We would rally support from all our retail tenants by strictly implementing the ‘zero plastic bag’ policy which coincides with the global campaign ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.’

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