Soon, major retailers and supermarkets in Abu Dhabi will replace plastic bags with various reusable and environmentally-friendly ones - but at a small charge to customers.
Abu Dhabi authorities recently announced that single-use plastic bags will be banned from June 2022.
The decision, which was issued on Wednesday, is based on the Emirate's integrated single-use plastic policy that was introduced in 2020. It is part of the UAE's vision to enhance sustainable living in Abu Dhabi.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) said through the implementation of the region’s first integrated policy, it plans to gradually reduce the amount of single-use plastic products consumed across Abu Dhabi, and encourage the use of reusable products.
EAD says it was planning to implement measures to reduce demand for about 16 single-use plastic products that include cups, stirrers, lids and cutlery.
V. Nandakumar, Director – Marketing & Communications at LuLu Group, said their hypermarkets have introduced three options for reusable bags, which are environment-friendly.
“We have the good quality reusable bags, which are priced at Dh2.50 and they are replaceable free of cost if they get damaged. We also have the jute bags which have always been there in the stores and the low-priced cloth bags which will cost Dh1 each,” said Nandakumar, adding that they are giving their customers many options for the re-usable bags for their convenience.
“We are fully committed to implementing the new government initiative of protecting the environment through the ban on the single use of plastic bags. With these strict regulations, it might help reduce the single-use of plastic bags in Abu Dahbi,” he added.
A LuLu Group official earlier told Khaleej Times that they have been running a campaign for the use of recyclable bags over the past years, including giving out eco-friendly reusable bags to customers for free. However, they faced challenges, as many customers weren't accustomed to using recyclable bags.
Kamal Vachani, director and partner Al Maya Group, said: “We are looking at various alternatives and one of these is using non-woven bags. But we are considering various options that are in line with UAE initiatives for saving the environment.
“We, at Al Maya, will follow all guidelines put in place by the UAE government to save the environment and create a cleaner environment.”
Rashidah Nambi, a cashier at a major hypermarket in Abu Dhabi, said the store already has recyclable bags, which costs Dh2.50 for a big one and 50 fils for a small one. But customers have been reluctant to use them.
“With the new policy that bans the single-use of plastic bags, I believe customers will have to buy these reusable bags and bring them along whenever they come for shopping," Nambi said.
EAD is also heading towards phasing out single-use Styrofoam cups, plates and food containers by 2024.
Officials said the comprehensive policy has been developed to promote a healthy environment and a sustainable lifestyle for all, and to combat climate change by reducing resource consumption and associated pollution.
Since the launch of the policy in March 2020, the EAD has coordinated extensively with its strategic partners, especially plastics producers and retailers, to implement the policy, as new technical standards for multi-use bags have been set.
In support of this drive, a large-scale awareness campaign will be carried out across the Emirate to educate the public on the new procedures, helping to activate the ban on single-use plastic bags from June.
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