From Saturday June 16, supermarket chain Waitrose will be charging customers Dh0.25 for each single-use plastic bag supplied. Initially part of a 12-week trial at five stores in Abu Dhabi, the initiative is intended to encourage residents to think more about the plastic waste they generate, which has been documented to cause huge pollution problems, especially in the sea.
Shoppers will be encouraged to bring their own bags with them when visiting the stores and Waitrose has confirmed that any and all store branding will be permissible. Each of the five locations will also feature a bag exchange, into which customers can deposit used bags for use by other shoppers. Any funds raised from the sale of bags will be put to good use in support of local charities and further sustainability drives.
The brand, which in the UAE is part of the Fine Fare Food Market group, announced that it has renewed its ‘sustainable partnership’ with Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which was established under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the aim of conserving nature and reducing some of the most pressing environmental threats faced in the region.
“The UAE is a coastal country relying on healthy natural ecosystems,” remarked Abdulla Al Nuiami, director of business development and marketing at EWS. “The wellbeing of our environment is important to ensure a thriving economy and in securing our food, water, transport and energy needs. Waitrose’s commitment to building a deeper understanding of how shoppers and retailers can be more sustainable, in order to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in nature, is encouraging. We hope this is the start of many more projects that will stem the tide of plastic pollution across land and sea”.
After the trial concludes, Waitrose says it will fully analyse its effectiveness and look at the possibility of rolling it out in the rest of the UAE stores. Matthew Frost, CEO of Fine Fare Food Market said: “It’s more important than ever for companies to take responsibility for their part in helping to reduce avoidable plastic waste and we believe that in order to bring about change, we need to help our customers make small shifts in their behaviour, to eventually lead to positive habits.”