Dubai: Eco-warriors, businesses hail charge for single-use plastic bags from July 1

Each minute, two million single-use plastic bags are handed out at stores worldwide, studies show.



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File photo
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 8 Feb 2022, 4:57 PM

Eco-warriors and businesses in Dubai say the move to levy a charge on single-use plastics is the best thing to have happened for environmental conservation in the UAE.

The plastic menace is playing havoc with our land, oceans and rivers and environmental champions, teachers, businesses, and community groups told Khaleej Times it’s the everyday choices in our lives that ultimately affect the environment, the climate, and plant and animal life.

Sanju Rao, founder member of Swap With Alternatives to Plastics (SWAP), says: “This is a good step towards making shoppers pause before mindlessly accepting the innumerable single-use plastic shopping bags they take home. It would be more effective if the price per bag was at least Dh1. It will pinch initially… but people should know that out of the 380 million tonnes of plastic produced worldwide, only 9 per cent gets recycled, while a shocking 91 per cent is floating around in our waters and air and will be there for some 400 years or more. So, we have no choice but to cut back on plastic usage.”

Rao adds another suggestion. “Supermarkets should encourage shoppers who bring their own reusable bags by providing them with special check-out counters. It will then prompt more people to use reusable eco-friendly bags.”

Asha Alexander, principal, GEMS Legacy School and executive leader – Climate Change, GEMS Education, said: “This comes at a time when even the smallest step taken is going to have far-reaching impact. No one wants to spend more than necessary, and by imposing a new tariff on single-use plastic bags, customers will be encouraged to bring their own bags. Though an imposition of a tariff may be resented, the expense is a small price for the cost we may have to pay if we don’t curb plastic usage.”

Plastic bags are made from non-biodegradable material, produced from non-renewable fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change. “We need to do better for our children and the future generations, and our schools have stepped up to use jute bags to supply stationery and have completely banned the use of single-use plastic bags on our campus. As we stop introducing plastic bags into our environment, we save both our land and water from pollution,” said Alexander.

Sai Talwalkar, co-founder of the Marigold Story (handcrafted online store), says, “Two years ago when we started the business, our aim was to focus on sustainable fashion. Now with the all businesses in Dubai limiting the use of single-use plastic bags, I feel, this small step can be a precursor for big gains later. I’ve always felt very strongly towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. I feel one should leave the world the way you receive it. In fact, we should try to reduce our environmental footprint to leave more room for future generations.”

With everybody “needing” the cheapest, readily available thing they can put their groceries into, over two million single-use plastic bags are distributed every minute at store checkout counters across the globe, studies showed.

Commending the total ban on single-use bags that will be implemented in two years, Sonu Lalwani, purchase head at R. Rich Supermarket and New W. Mart Supermarket in Dubai, says: “It’s indeed a great initiative that will generate greater sense of responsibility among people about their environment. I am conscious about plastic waste and waste segregation, but customers do ask for plastic bags depending on the nationality. Clients from the European community carry their own bags, whereas many others are fine with plastic bags.

“When it comes to home delivery, a lot of items are still delivered in plastic bags. Gradually all this is being phased out. In fact, as a supermarket we have been considering the use of eco-friendly bags for our customers who walk into our stores .”

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Mirshat K.V., manager at Fine Mart, says: “Personally, I know plastics have long-term effects on our environment, but most customers are fine with using plastic bags. This kind of an anti-plastic campaign will create awareness and enable everyone to become educated customers.”

“We do realise the enormity of the plastic problem and this tariff system will dissuade people from using plastic bags as more customers might start getting their own cloth bags from home or start using the ‘for sale’ reusable grocery bags. I am certain this will help reduce the usage of single-use bags to a great extent. We are fully aligned with the idea of moving away from such polythene bags.”


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