At least 5,000 units of plastic bags are given out every single day at a grocery located at Dubai’s Barsha Heights area.
The grocery attendant was of the view that once the bags are charged, their usage will be significantly reduced. The management of the grocery has not yet decided on alternatives to the plastic bags, but they are hoping for customers’ cooperation in reducing the use of plastics. “We may use paper bags and cloth bags in future, but it will be charged as per the managements’ decision,” said the attendant
He added that the bundle costs them Dh125 and the shop buys bags “worth nearly Dh3,000 every month”.
“And when for festive times or before long weekends, we have sometimes shelled out nearly Dh4,000 on plastic bags,” the attendant said.
The bags, he said, come in different sizes, and can hold up to 15kgs.
He also mentioned that due to rise in temperature, deliveries are on the rise and “we have to give plastic bags for the deliveries as we have no other option”.
Speaking on residents getting their own bags for shopping, he said that there are many customers who get their own bags, and believes that the number may shoot up in coming days. “The residents at our locality are from diverse places. Some people get their own bags and avoid the usage of plastics. This trend is slowly being grasped by others as well.”
The shop is part of a grocery chain that has over 100 stores throughout Dubai and the quantity of plastic bags used differs from store to store. “Our store in Deira gives over 10,000 plastic bags every single day,” said the attendant.
Residents hail move
Jonathan, an Australian national residing in Tecom, is confident that UAE residents will slowly make the move to bringing in their own bags for shopping. “We bring in about 100 or more plastic bags into our homes every month. But what we do with them? They just pile up and become a heap of bags lying on our shelves. With the authorities making the bags chargeable, residents will realise that they will be shelving about Dh100 a month or more. This will make a difference,” he said.
“Once people are used to carrying in their own reusable containers, it will result in massive reduction in plastic bag usage, eventually protecting the environment,” added the Aussie.
Restaurants making shift towards paper bags
With the charge on plastic bags coming in soon, a few restaurants in Dubai have already started using paper bags as an alternative.
On an order above Dh40, Dhaba Lane provides paper bags for their guests, for both takeaways and deliveries, says Eti Bhasin, owner of the popular Dubai eatery. “Plastic bags being chargeable is a good initiative as a step towards sustainability and protecting the environment. We are in the process of introducing our own biodegradable paper bags,” Bhasin said
The restaurant uses over 1,200 plastic bags on average a month, which costs them about Dh400. “Customers’ reaction has been neutral, as it’s a country-wide norm. It’s only after July 1 that we can get a clearer picture once the move comes into effect,” said Bhasin.
The restaurant management said that they advise their guests to carry a jute bag to take out leftovers and parcels. However, Bhasin added that they are in discussions with their supplier for biodegradable bags. “Due to a surge in demand from many restaurants and establishments, our suppliers will also be looking into alternatives and, with time, we shall also make the move of eliminating plastic use as much as possible,” said Bhasin.
Yummy Dosa, another restaurant chain with branches in Dubai’s Karama and Discovery Gardens, invests nearly Dh1,000 in plastic bags every month for take-away and deliveries. “We give away nearly 3,000 plastic bags, which includes delivery as well as some take-away orders. Sometimes even left-over food needs to be packed up for customers,” said Jugal Parekh, MD at Yummy Dosa.
Commenting on charging 25 fils for a plastic bag, Parekh said: “It is a good cause to make the UAE plastic free in the coming years, and we have time to make people understand and to use plastic bags less by charging them an extra penny,”
He added that “people are always reluctant to pay extra for anything”, but some customers do support the cause. Yumy Dosa is also looking to introduce small paper bags in order to not charge any money from customers and “will be looking to go plastic-free soon”, Parekh said.
Starting July 1, 2022, single-use bags will cost 25 fils at stores across the Emirate. The tariff applies to restaurants, pharmacies and e-commerce deliveries.
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