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UAE retailers look at providing single-use plastic alternatives to shoppers

Alternatives include jute bags, biodegradable bags, paper bags, recycled paper bags, cloth bags and starch-based bags.

File photo
File photo

Waheed Abbas

Published: Wed 9 Feb 2022, 5:01 PM

More companies in the UAE have announced that they’re going plastic-free and are also looking at alternatives to single-use plastic bags, which are more sustainable and eco-friendly, after the Dubai government announced plans to apply a new tariff to limit single-use plastic in the emirate.

Starting July 1, 2022, single-use bags will cost 25 fils at stores across the Emirate. The tariff will apply to restaurants, pharmacies and e-commerce deliveries also.

Some of the alternatives to single-use plastic bags are jute bags, biodegradable bags, new paper bags, recycled paper bags, cloth bags and starch-based bags.

“We have introduced two new varieties jute bags and biodegradable bags throughout the LuLu outlets in the UAE and will also launch more options such as cloth bags. We plan to extend the use of biodegradable bags for the garbage also very soon because this is also an area of concern in terms of environmental safety. We are fully aligned with the government’s goal and vision to eradicate single-use plastic bags,” said V Nandakumar, director of marketing and communication at LuLu Group International.

Jobilal M Vavachan, CEO, Life Pharmacy, said hailed the government’s decision to phase out single-use plastic.

“We believe in reducing carbon footprint and also sustainability. We don’t use single-use plastic anymore. So we are already in compliance with the government’s initiative to reduce single-use plastic. Plastic bags we use are biodegradable,” said Vavachan.

The company, which receives around 40,000 customers a day, announced crossing the 300 pharmacies milestone in November.

“We are looking at suitable alternatives which are more environment-friendly and also practical. We don’t want to get into paper bags because then we will be damaging the environment on the other side too. As an option, there are recycled papers available and jute bags too. Then there is a new alternative called the starch bags but it might not be the right option in the Gulf region. So reusable bag is something that suits and many firms have already started promoting. So we will also be introducing reusable bags very soon,” he added.

Retail giant Carrefour was the first in the UAE to offer a recyclable carrier bag in 2007 which are a cost-effective solution for customers as it can be multiple times.

Electronics retailer Eros Group on Wednesday announced that it’ll move completely to paper bags across all of its stores within a month.

“Even before the new guidelines were announced, we had already decided to make the switch as part of our commitment to creating a sustainable and eco-friendly future. On average, shoppers use over 2-3 bags per trip which is over 1 million bags per month, which comes to over 2-3 tonnes of plastic each year,” said Mohammad Badri, director, Eros Group.


“We will completely phase out the use of plastic by March 2022 and instead implement the use of recyclable paper as part of our sustainability initiative. Even from an operation standpoint, shoppers appreciate paper bags instead of plastic bags. It's our commitment to try to be efficient and eco-friendly where we will also move gradually to a more paperless operation by April 2022,” added Badri.

Another retail major Al Maya Group is also looking at alternatives to single-use plastics.

“We have not taken the decision yet but we’ll soon work on the alternatives to give the best experience to shoppers. Even our customers are also very environment-savvy and they bring their own reusable bags for shopping. Soon, this will become people’s habit to bring their own bags. Also, I am confident that companies will also come up with new eco-friendly bags in the near future which will give retailers and shoppers more options to choose from,” says Kamal Vachani, group director and partner at Al Maya Group.

Alternatives to plastic bags

>> Jute bags

>> Biodegradable bags

>> Paper bags

>> Recycled paper bags

>> Starch bags

>> Cloth bags


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