A charge on single-use bags in Dubai to be introduced next month is aimed at driving a change in customer behaviour, authorities said.

The new law means a mandatory tariff on all single-use bags from July 1.

It will apply to all bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials that are 57 micrometres thick. A micrometre is one thousandth of a millimetre.

In an interview shared on Dubai Media, Imad Juma Mohammed, studies and permit section manager at Dubai Municipality, said the aim is to end single-use bags altogether.

“Our government is conscious of the welfare of future generations across all sectors, as is evident in the determined efforts of the UAE and Dubai to protect the environment and make Dubai a leader in sustainability,” he said.

“And from July 1, 2022, we will implement the executive council’s decision to impose a fee of 25 fils per bag on single-use bags, aiming to ban such bags altogether within two years.

“The tariff applies to all single-use bags for carrying goods.

“Stores are not obliged to offer free alternatives as the overall goal is to drive a change in consumer behaviour in order to preserve the environment for future generations in Dubai,” he said.

All stores must levy the charge for each single-use bag, and a different tariff can be applied to reusable alternatives, if provided by the store.

The charge is the first step towards a complete ban on single-use plastic bags in Dubai in two years. Retailers have four months to make the change.

On June 1, Abu Dhabi became the first place in the Middle East to ban single-use plastic bags.

Alternatives being provided to shoppers include thicker traditional-look plastic bags, which are intended for use between four and 10 times and can be recycled, bags made out of paper, and sturdy “bag for life”-type reusable juco and woven alternatives.

Some outlets, such as Spinneys and Carrefour, have opted to remove thicker traditional-type reusable plastic bags altogether, offering either paper or bag-for-life alternatives only.

Costs start at 50 fils ($0.13), rising to about Dh12 ($3.26) for large, hard-wearing juco bags, which are made of cotton and jute. (The National)