Abu Dhabi bans single-use plastic: Retailers offer reusable bags for 50 fils fee

The charge will be used to fund environmental projects


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Wed 1 Jun 2022, 2:18 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Jun 2022, 4:53 PM

As the single-use plastic ban comes into effect in Abu Dhabi today (June 1), major shopping outlets in the capital will provide alternative bags - in place of plastic bags - for a minimum fee of of 50 fils, which will be contributed towards environmental activities, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced.

“The fees aims to reduce the number of bags used in shopping where possible and reuse these bags where necessary. Consumers can avoid this cost by reducing the use of bags and bringing bags from home to avoid paying these fees,” said a statement from EAD.

Abu Dhabi’s integrated Single-Use Plastic Policy bans the sale of single-use plastic bags across all retailers.

During a compliance tour of retail stores in Abu Dhabi, led by Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, officials said there are reusable alternative bags that have a lower environmental impact regardless of the material they are made of.

Al Dhaheri said that the alternative bags should have a thickness of less than 50 microns according to the minimum specifications and quality of bags included in the decision to impose a tariff on single-use of plastic shopping bags.

Officials noted that plastic bags can be used between four to 10 times without difficulty and will have a load-bearing capacity of 15 litres.

Major retailers in the UAE Capital have gotten rid of plastic bags and are now providing shoppers with environment-friendly reusable alternatives.

The retailers were offering the substitutes to encourage positive behavioural change amid customers and provide them with the opportunity to reuse the bags when needed, to avoid using single-use plastic versions.

The retailers are providing alternative reusable bags and single-use paper bags for as low as 25 fils and up to Dh11.50. These include jute bags, biodegradable bags, woven bags, juco bags, plant-based bags, new paper bags, recycled paper bags, cloth bags, starch-based bags among others.

“Today is a historic day for Abu Dhabi as we implement the ban on single-use plastic bags as part of our policy. It was very encouraging to see all the main retailers in the Capital adhering to the new rule and adapting their operations to ensure that consumers have environmentally-friendly alternatives,” said Al Dhaheri after visiting retail outlets on Wednesday morning.

“These positive and proactive changes by retailers will allow us to achieve our goal of promoting sustainable living for all residents in Abu Dhabi.”

She added: “We want to see a reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic products, to get people to avoid using plastic bags when they are not really required."

More sustainable lifestyle to everyone

According to Al Dhaheri, the government’s goal is to provide a more sustainable lifestyle for citizens, residents and visitors of Abu Dhabi.

“We are aware that change takes time, and we believe the community can take positive steps towards utilising reusable bags to ensure that Abu Dhabi offers a healthy environment for all. I am optimistic that, in time, Abu Dhabi will serve as a leading city that we will reap positive rewards from boldly taking this step forward for current and future generations,” she said.

EAD plans to implement measures to reduce demand for about 16 single-use plastic products. These include: cups, stirrers, lids, straws, cutlery, plastic bottles, food containers, cotton buds, crisp packages, sweet wrappers, cigarette butts, wet wipes and sanitary items, sticks for balloons, balloons and microbeads (including nurdles).

In the first phase of implementing the policy, only the use of single-use plastic grocery shopping bags has been banned at outlets on June 1, 2022.

Authorities noted they were also heading towards phasing out single-use styrofoam cups, plates and food containers by June 1, 2024.


Mohammed Munif Al Mansouri, Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, part of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), said: “We are committed to provide suitable ecosystem for businesses and consumers, especially their safety and protect our environment. The proactive approach of the Emirate’s major retailers to support the implementation of the Abu Dhabi Single-Use Plastic Policy shows high level of commercial establishment’s awareness about environmental issues and willingness to make a change in line with strategic objectives of Abu Dhabi”.

The tour covered four major hypermarkets including Lulu Hypermarket at Mushrif Mall, Carrefour Airport Road, Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society along Muroor Road and Spinneys on Muroor Road.

The comprehensive policy has been developed to promote a healthy environment and a sustainable lifestyle for all, and to combat climate change by reducing resource consumption and associated pollution and protect the environment and biodiversity.

A recent study showed that plastic materials were found in 80 percent of dead hawksbill turtles in Abu Dhabi while 97 plastic pieces were discovered in 55 turtles. Studies also show that the leakage of plastic particles into the human food chain affects public health.

More news from