Supermarkets start charging for plastic bags

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Supermarkets start charging for plastic bags
By Emmanuelle Landaisand Mahmood Saberi, Staff Reporters GULF NEWS Published: February 04, 2008, 23:31

Dubai: Geant became the first supermarket in the UAE to start charging for plastic bags on Monday as part of the celebrations for the UAE’s national Environment Day and two more hypermarkets will soon introduce similar charges.

Environmental protection is a top priority in spite of the UAE’s huge investment in the oil and gas sector said Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, in a statement for Environment Day, celebrated for the last 11 years on February 4.

Mohammad Numan, environment and health education department officer at Dubai Municipality did not name the other two hypermarkets, saying that an agreement will be signed with them next week. He said Dubai was the first emirate to initiate this campaign against plastic bags.

Geant has 70,000 tonnes of plastic leaving its store per year in the form of plastic bags according to Gabriel De Andrade, group merchandise manager.

Ordinary plastic bags will cost 25 fils each. Customers will be able to reuse the bags at any time. For each bag returned a credit note of the same value of the bags will be issued. An alternative reusable jute bag is also available to shoppers for Dh5.

The plastic-reducing campaign is being held under the umbrella of My Bag My Earth launched last year in collaboration with Dubai Municipality with the aim of reducing plastic bags in stores and providing shoppers with alternatives.

Shoppers had a mixed reaction to the new fee at Geant hypermarket yesterday. A group of volunteers from the International Association of Human Values was at hand to explain the move.

Ramiah, a construction worker, said he could not understand why he had to pay for the bags which he earlier got for free.

“We reuse them for throwing out our garbage,” he said, when told about the pollution hazards.

“I am paying more for everything else anyway,” said Mehta, a housewife from India.

Litter-free: 300 take part in clean-up

About 300 volunteers including fishermen, students and dhow workers took part in a voluntary clean-up of Dubai’s Al Hamriya Port to mark Environment Day.

The event was supported by professional divers as well as volunteers from oil firms and shipping companies

In conjunction with the UAE Environment Day the Middle East premiere of Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental documentary film, The 11th Hour aired in Dubai last night and will be released on February 14 in the Grand Megaplex and Cinestar Mall of the Emirates.

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