Single-use plastic bag alternatives in UAE – from canvas totes to key-ring versions

Abu Dhabi and Dubai customers urged get into habit of bringing reusable or recyclable alternative when shopping

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Abu Dhabi will ban the use of plastic bags from Wednesday, while Dubai will introduce a charge of 25 fils ($0.06) for single-use bags from July 1.

Dubai said the mandatory tariff will be applied to all single-use bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials that are 57 micrometres thick (a micrometre is one-thousandth of a millimetre).

In announcing the update, Dubai Municipality said shops were not obliged to provide free alternatives, as the goal is to push a change in consumer behaviour to protect the environment. A full ban on single-use plastic bags will be introduced in Dubai in two years.

Supermarkets in both emirates have been preparing for the changes and have urged shoppers to choose long-life alternatives.

The options below come at a wide variety of price points and styles and can be stashed in your car, purse or backpack for maximum convenience.

Reusable plastic bags

Large, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags are thicker and more durable than single-use ones.

These are non-biodegradable but are made to be reused many times, making them a better option than the disposable ones.

They are currently available at checkout counters of most supermarkets including Carrefour, Choithrams, Lulu’s and Spinney’s and generally cost Dh2.5 to Dh5.

These bags come in different designs and some shops such as Carrefour have even instituted trade-in programmes where they will replace worn out ones for nothing.

Jute bags

Jute bags are one of the most durable options and are naturally biodegradable.

These sustainable items are slightly more expensive than reusable plastic ones but are much more environmentally friendly.

They are available for as little as Dh10 at Carrefour.

High-end options can cost up to Dh50 at other retailers.

Canvas tote bags

Canvas is another durable option similar to jute.

Such bags may not be as environmentally friendly because they require more resources to produce and distribute but they can be reused many times.

Canvas totes are often adorned with stylish or colourful designs and cost about Dh40.

Key-ring tote bags

These bags are known for their ability to fold down and be stored in an attached pouch about the size of an egg, which can then be stuffed in a pocket or attached to a key ring or backpack.

They are portable and can be cleaned in a washing machine.

Paper bags

While these bags generate waste, paper can be recycled so it is a preferable alternative if you forget your reusable bag.

Paper bags are currently available at several supermarket chains including Choithrams and some Zoom locations.

Personal shopping trolley bags

These foldable bags on wheels are perfect for those walking home from the supermarket – or even those with a long trek back to their vehicle through an expansive car park.

While previously relegated to the domain of “granny chic,” carts are back in vogue and can be purchased for Dh40-Dh100.

Mesh bags/reusable plastic produce bags

The plastic bags used for produce can easily be replaced with mesh bags or reusable plastic ones for fruits and veggies.

Get a set of three Evriholder reusable produce bags for Dh20 at Homesmith stores

Reuse single-use plastic bags

Even disposable plastic bags can be reused a couple of times.

Instead of immediately throwing them away, try stashing them under your sink for future use as an impromptu lunch sack, pet waste pick-up bag and more.

Countries around the world that have already banned plastic bags - in pictures