The UAE will enforce a blanket ban on single-use plastic shopping bags from January 1, 2024, it was announced on Tuesday. State news agency Wam said a ministerial resolution prohibits the import, production and circulation of single-use plastic shopping bags from next year.
This will serve as the prelude to banning products made of single-use materials. From January 1, 2026, the country will ban plastic or foam products like cups, plates, cutlery, containers and boxes. These include spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks, straws and stirrers.
The decision excludes some products, including thin bag rolls used to keep food items fresh. Products that are to be exported or re-exported are exempted, provided they are clearly labelled. Bags made out of recycled materials in the country are exempted as well.
The authorities concerned 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.
The pan-UAE measures aim to protect the environment from plastic pollution. The decision limits the consumption of plastic and regulates its use at the federal level.
As per the decision, all stakeholders — including the authorities concerned and consumers — are required to work together to reduce dependence on single-use plastic. They are to adopt initiatives so that consumers switch to multi-use products. The authorities concerned must also make sure that alternatives are readily available at shopping centres and retail stores.
At least four emirates have announced bans or regulated the use of plastic so far. In Abu Dhabi, a ban on single-use plastics went into effect on June 1, while in Dubai, since July 1, retailers have been charging 25 fils per bag. Sharjah introduced a 25-fil tariff per single-use plastic bags from October 1, 2022, with a ban all set to go into effect from January 1, 2024. Umm Al Quwain banned single-use plastics from January 1, 2023.