UAE announces blanket ban on single-use plastic shopping bags

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it will enforce a blanket ban on single-use plastic shopping bags starting January 1, 2024. The decision, made by a ministerial resolution, prohibits the import, production, and circulation of single-use plastic shopping bags in the country. The move is aimed at protecting the environment from plastic pollution and reducing dependence on single-use plastic.

Ban on Single-Use Materials

This ban on single-use plastic shopping bags serves as a prelude to banning products made of single-use materials. Starting January 1, 2026, the UAE will ban plastic or foam products like cups, plates, cutlery, containers, and boxes. These include items such as spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks, straws, and stirrers.

Exemptions to the Ban

The decision excludes some products from the ban, including thin bag rolls used to keep food items fresh. Products that are to be exported or re-exported are also exempt, provided they are clearly labeled. Bags made out of recycled materials within the country are also exempt.

Initiatives to Reduce Dependence on Single-Use Plastic

The authorities are urged to develop mechanisms to reduce the production of single-use materials to package items including ear buds, cigarettes, wet wipes, and balloons, among others. All stakeholders, including the authorities and consumers, are required to work together to reduce dependence on single-use plastic and adopt initiatives to switch to multi-use products. The authorities must also make sure that alternatives are readily available at shopping centers and retail stores.

Previous Efforts to Regulate Plastic Usage

The announcement of the nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags follows similar efforts by at least four emirates to regulate plastic usage. In Abu Dhabi, a ban on single-use plastics went into effect on June 1, while in Dubai, retailers have been charging 25 fils per bag since July 1. Sharjah introduced a 25-fil tariff per single-use plastic bags from October 1, 2022, with a ban set to go into effect from January 1, 2024. Umm Al Quwain banned single-use plastics from January 1, 2023.


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