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Starting July 1, a mandatory tariff of 25 fils will be applied to all single-use bags made from plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic, and plant-based biodegradable materials, clarified Dubai Municipality.
The tariff would be charged on bags that are 57 micrometres thick, the Municipality said in a new list of guidelines released recently. A micrometre is one-thousandth of a metre, and the thickness of the plastic bags determines its strength. The thicker the plastic, the higher the cost.
“Each bag less than 57 micrometres thick, including bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials, will be charged 25 fils at the point of purchase at commercial outlets,” said the Municipality.
All stores must apply a charge of 25 fils for each single-use bag, and a different charge can be placed on sustainable or reusable alternatives if provided by the store. Moreover, stores are not obligated to provide free alternatives as the goal is to push a change in consumer behaviour in order to preserve the local environment, said the authority.
Here are some points of note for commercial outlets:
Is the charge obligatory in the shops or is it optional?
DM: The charge is mandatory for all shops that use single-use bags to carry goods.
Is it possible to provide bags of another quality as an alternative to plastic bags?
DM: Yes, but the charge applies to the alternatives if the specifications match the single-use bags for carrying goods.
When will the charge be applied? When will the circulation of bags be banned in general?
DM: The charge will be applied to start from July 1, 2022, until the complete ban within two years.
Do I have a deadline to organize the working mechanism and cover the decision needs?
DM: Yes, there is a period of four months for the application of the charges, and then two years for banning the use of single-use bags while the items to be banned will be specified at a later date.
How do I show the value on the purchase bills?
DM: It can be added like any other item recorded on the bill at the time of purchase.
Is there a limit on the number of bags sold to a single consumer?
DM: There is no cap on the number of bags sold per consumer, but we recommend that employees at payment points be trained to rationalize the use of bags when packing and delivering purchases.
Is the charge calculated even if the shopper brings his own bags?
DM: The charge is not calculated if the consumer brings his own bags.
To whom belong the transfer of revenues from the single-use bags?
DM: Transfer of revenue belongs to the private sector although we recommend that it be donated to support sustainable initiatives either through the company or through local environmental and community associations.
Why was a charge imposed on single-use bags and what are the benefits of the decision?
DM: Single-use carrier bags are a major source of litter and pollution in our environment. These bags do not decompose until after a very long period of time and are used only once – perhaps twice – before they are disposed of. Most of them are used only once to take goods from the store to the house.
Does the fee apply to single-use plastic bags only?
DM: Regarding other single-use bags, it should be noted that alternatives often have a larger environmental footprint than plastic bags although they are easier to manage at the disposal stage and cause less environmental and health damage, provided they are used properly. For example, the production of paper bags is also harmful to the environment and leads to the cutting of large quantities of trees and the consumption of great resources and energy, and therefore its use also requires the payment of fees.
Single-use plastic bags have a lower environmental footprint than paper bags in the manufacturing stage, but their damages lie in the disposal stage. Paper bags have between three to seven times the environmental footprint of plastic bags in the manufacturing stage.
What is the price of the bag? Is there a limit on the number of bags purchased?
DM: The minimum charge for single-use bags is 25 Fils and there is no limit to the number of bags purchased.
How will the purchase bill show this charge?
DM: The bag will be recorded as a purchased item on the purchase bill itself.
Is the charge required if I don’t need to buy any bags?
DM: No. The charge is only on single-use bags for carrying goods that are taken from the store when purchasing the goods.
Are there shops or activities that are exempt from paying this charge?
DM: No, the charge applies to all stores that use single-use bags to carry goods, including, for example, retail stores, restaurants, pharmacies, e-commerce services and delivery services.
When will the decision to impose the charge and ban the circulation of bags be applied?
DM: The charges will be applied to start from July 1, 2022, while the ban will apply in two years. The items to be banned will be specified at a later date.
Can I bring bags and carriers to use instead of buying plastic bags from the store?
DM: Yes, you can bring bags and carriers to use instead of buying plastic bags from the store, this is the sustainable practice that is encouraged.
Is the use of reusable shopping bags safe from a health point of view?
DM: Most multi-use shopping bags are made from materials that are cleanable, washable and recyclable.
What are the specifications of the bags that will include charges (size, specifications)?
DM: The charge will be applied to all single-use bags used to carry goods at the point of purchase according to the following specifications:
Each bag is less than 57 micrometres thickness
Includes bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic, oxo-plastics and plant-based biodegradable materials
Can biodegradable bags be used?
DM: Biodegradable plastic bags have environmental damage and therefore a 25 fils charge will apply to them as well. Biodegradable plastic bags do not completely decompose but leave behind micro-plastics that can be consumed by the marine life we eat. As the objective of the policy is to reduce single-use bags, plant-based single-use bags are also included under the tariff.
Does the charge apply to packing bags of vegetables, fruits, meat and fish?
DM: The policy does not include packing bags for vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. The policy includes only single-use bags for “carrying goods”.
Will the decision include bags of products that are purchased online?
DM: The policy applies to online purchase sites if they use single-use bags to carry goods.
How do I report non-compliant outlets?
DM: By registering a complaint with the consumer protection channels of the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai through the “Dubai Consumer” application on smartphones, the website www.consumerrights.ae or the Call Center 600545555.
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