Dubai's single-use bag ban begins on Saturday

Bags of all material will be prohibited from June 1, as part of campaign to minimise waste and foster a culture of recycling

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Dubai is renewing its push towards a more sustainable and greener future with a total ban on all single-use bags, regardless of the material, from June 1.

Retail outlets will no longer be allowed to charge 25 fils for single-use bags at checkout, and are not obliged to offer alternatives. Included in the ban are paper and biodegradable bags.

This is part of an initiative to completely phase out single-use products to minimise plastic waste and foster a culture of recycling among businesses and the community.

Businesses caught breaking the rule will be fined Dh200 ($55). This penalty will be doubled for repeat offences within a year, with a cap of Dh2,000.

The new ban comes six months after Dubai phased out single-use plastic bags across retail outlets.

“Single-use plastic kills more than 100,000 marine animals in a year,” read a banner held by a diver at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo as part of an awareness campaign to highlight the adverse impact of plastic waste on marine life.

It urged residents to “be part of the change and switch to reusable cloth bags”.

Why ban biodegradable bags?

Even though they are more eco-friendly, recycling biodegradable bags is a challenge.

They require their own recycling process and cannot be clubbed with other plastic.

And, if left in landfills, they create microplastics that enter the food chain.

What’s banned, and what’s not

According to the guidelines issued by Dubai Municipality, the new ban will apply to all single-use bags, including paper, biodegradable and recycled plastic that are 57 micrometres (0.057mm) thick or less.

Customers can use bags that are 58 micrometres thick and above.

Bread bags, rubbish bin liners, rubbish bags and wrapping bags for vegetables, meats, fish and chicken will be exempt from the rule, and so will bags used for laundry, electronic devices and grains.

Dubai’s three-phase ban on single-use plastic

Further bans will be in place over the next few years.

  • June 1, 2024: Ban on all single-use bags.
  • January 1, 2025: Ban will extend to include styrofoam containers and cups, plastic stirrers, straws, table covers and cotton swabs.
  • January 1, 2026: Final phase will see ban on single-use plastic cups, lids and cutlery, plastic food containers and plates.

It was in 2024 that the UAE introduced a nationwide ban on single-use plastic.

According to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, single-use plastic was reduced by 95 per cent in the first year of the ban.

In Abu Dhabi, a ban on styrofoam comes into effect today.

Making the switch to eco-friendly products

Supermarket chains in Dubai are already stepping up efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

Warwick Gird, GM marketing at Spinneys Dubai, said the chain stopped offering single-use plastic bags to customers from mid-2022 and replaced them with reusable alternatives.

Spinneys offers 100 per cent post-consumer recycled material bags for Dh1, and reduce 25 fils off their customers' shopping bills if they reuse the bags, said Mr Gird.

The retailer is also “taking action ahead of the legislation with regards to other single-use materials in stores and are transitioning out of single-use plastic cutlery and polystyrene packaging materials”, he added.

Updated: May 31, 2024, 4:41 AM