Shoppers May Have to Pay
to Help the Environment

DUBAI - The Ministry of Environment and Water may consider imposing a fee for disposable plastic shopping bags if alternatives are available, a ministry official said on Wednesday.

By Emily Meredith (

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2009, 1:58 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:31 AM

The Environmental Advisor to the Ministry of Environment and Water, Dr Saad Al Numairy, said the ministry had established a committee to study biodegradable, plastic and fabric alternatives to plastic bags.

The ministry would study the results of campaigns before deciding to implement a fee, he said, adding that the ministry aimed to reducing reliance on plastic bags by 10 per cent each year.

Dr Al Numairy was speaking at the launch of a new reusable bag by Carrefour. The government needs to introduce legislation to ban disposable bags or charging consumers for their use in order to affect real change, said Jacob John, marketing director of UAE-based publication Society & Environment.

The bag Carrefour introduced on Wednesday is a small, thinner and, at 50 fils, cheaper version of the reusable bag it launched in 2007. The supermarket chain sold 800,000 of the first bag, a saving of an estimated 50 million disposable bags, the company says.

Carrefour UAE Vice-President Jean Luc Graziato said, “The price ensures that no one will feel excluded from this initiative.”

Henri Changeux, senior vice president, said Carrefour aimed to eliminate all plastic bags from its stores.

Dr Al Numairy said that for the campaign to be successful, there needs to be a demand from consumers. “We need you to support this campaign. We need you to support this initiative.”

As the movement towards environmental stability grows, several companies in the UAE are pushing alternatives to traditional disposable plastic bags.

ENOC only uses biodegradable bags at its filler stations. Spinney’s began selling jute bags last May. Nakheel Retail sells bags with slogans ‘I love green’ and ‘Plastic is so last season’ for Dh35 at Ibn Battutta Mall and Dragon Mart.

Similar totes by designer Anya Hindmarch reading ‘I’m not a plastic bag’ sold out in London in two hours in July 2007.

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It is a very good initiative on the part of the Dubai Municipality. Public should not only support the initiative but also help in campaigning for it. I have been using jute bags, bought from India and have even presented such bags to some of my friends. The only problem is that people use the plastic bags from the super markets to dispose household rubbish, so some alternative must be thought of in that area. -Shreyosi, Sharjah

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