Dubai bans single-use bags: Shoppers carry groceries in hand, vow to change habits

The emirate had mandated businesses to impose a 25-fil charge on single-use plastic bags from the beginning of this year


SM Ayaz Zakir

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KT Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir
KT Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 1 Jun 2024, 5:49 PM

Last updated: Sun 2 Jun 2024, 9:09 AM

Carrying items in hands, trolleys and purchasing reusable bags – shoppers across malls and supermarkets were seen adjusting to the ban on single-use plastic and paper bags enforced today in Dubai.

A Dubai-wide ban on single-use bags went into effect on June 1, with stores not obligated to offer free alternatives.

“We read about it in the news, but it completely slipped our minds. Since this initiative helps the environment, we decided not to buy the bags available at the counter. We want to change our habits. So, I put everything in the cart and loaded it into our car,” said Faiza Idrissi, a resident of Al Garhoud who was shopping at Deira City Centre on June 1.

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“This is a lesson for us and we will be carrying our own bags whenever we go shopping,” added Faiza.

The emirate had mandated that businesses impose a 25-fil charge on single-use plastic bags from the beginning of this year. Shoppers have been encouraged to bring their own reusable carriers.

Ghada El Masri, a hospitality executive at The Serve Hub, mentioned that she usually carries shopping bags, and her car is always stocked with them. “But today, I had to visit the hospital for a doctor's appointment, and I parked my car across the street. That's the only reason I couldn't bring my bags with me,” said Ghada, who was shopping at the Al Ghurair Mall in Deira.

“But the reusable bag I bought at the counter for Dh2 is quite sturdy, and I will be using this bag for my future shopping,” said Ghada.

Not all shoppers were caught off guard. Some, like Fatima, have been preparing for this change. “I have been bringing my own bags for shopping since last year as authorities have been educating us to carry our own bags through awareness campaigns. I am glad the authorities have taken this step to enforce it more strictly,” said Dubai resident Fatima M, who was shopping at Union Co-op in Abu Hail.

Shifting to paper bags

Some retailers said that they will be providing their clients with alternatives to transport their purchased products.

“No single-use bags will be used from June 1 across Al Maya Supermarkets. As a first step, we shall be shifting from the single-use polybags towards paper bags (multi-use possibility). These bags will be available in two sizes (small and large) and will be charged for,” said Kamal Vachani, group director and partner at Al Maya Group.

Kamal Vachani
Kamal Vachani

“We encourage our clients to bring their own bags which is the path towards sustainability. If customers prefer to pay, then they will be purchasing the bags for usage. We are moving towards sustainability and going green to save the environment. We are grateful to the Ministry of Economy and the UAE government for this great initiative."

Cloth bags

Union Co-op said that they have banned all single-use bags from their supermarkets and have already introduced eco-friendly options like multiple-use cloth bags and others at competitive prices.

“As a responsible entity, we have always worked closely with the community, ensuring communal welfare all the time. That being said, we didn't have huge quantities of plastic stocked when it comes to single-use bags,” said Dr Suhail Al Bastaki, director of corporate communication department at Union Co-op.

Dr Suhail Al Bastaki
Dr Suhail Al Bastaki

The supermarket chain has also said that it will soon be offering perks to customers to encourage them to bring their own bags.

“Our customers are perceptive and recognise their responsibilities, which makes strategies easier to deploy. We are committed to actively promote the benefits of reusable bags further through in-store signage, social media campaigns, blogs, magazines, TV and radio programs, and educational materials. Plus, several training programmes for on-ground staff are underway as well, which will help them in serving customers better,” said Dr Al Bastaki.


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