New Oman decision soon to regulate plastic bags

Muscat: The government is moving towards tougher rules to regulate the use of plastic products, including carry bags, in the Sultanate.

A meeting was held at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) on Monday to discuss the issue of increasing use of plastic products in the country.

The statement described the impact of plastic bags on marine life especially due to the dumping of plastic waste in the sea as a matter of great concern. “It called for a serious response and initiatives to solve this problem,” said a statement from MECA.

MECA seeks to enact legislation that limits the use of plastic bags to prevent their impact on the environment and also to protect the health of both people and marine organisms, which is one of the top priorities of the social and economic policies of the Sultanate.

A Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) proposal concerning the adoption of ISO 17088 in the manufacture and import of plastic bags for general purposes was discussed at the meeting.

The head of the chemical and petroleum products specification at MoCI, Nadia bint Mohammed al Sayabiya, highlighted the importance of this standard in controlling the use of plastic bags.

In Oman, plastic bags can be converted into compost under special conditions, complying with GSO 901/1997 for organic compost made from solid waste in the cities.

Workshops will be held for factory owners, importers and raw materials factories to ensure the gradual implementation of the decision by explaining to them the regulations for both imported and locally manufactured plastic bags.

ISO 17088:2008 specifies procedures and requirements for the identification and labeling of plastics and products made from plastics that are suitable for recovery through aerobic composting. The four following aspects have been addressed:

Biodegradation; disintegration during composting; negative effects on the composting process and facility; and negative effects on the quality of the resulting compost, including the presence of high levels of regulated metals and other harmful components.

This specification is intended to set up the requirements for the labeling of plastic products and materials, including packaging made from plastics, as ‘compostable’ or ‘compostable in municipal and industrial composting facilities” or “biodegradable during composting” (for the purposes of this International Standard, these three expressions are considered to be equivalent).

The labeling will also have to conform to international, regional, national or local regulations.

Dr Mehab bin Ali al Hinai from Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (B’eah) said there is a need for collection of plastic bags at special places and under certain conditions so that they can be converted into fertilizer.

“Also there should be an awareness drive on the need to not mix plastic bags with other waste. There will be an initiative to connect with the client companies for their support on this issue.”

A representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said the standard specification proposed by MoCI has taken into consideration that there will be no side effects of fertilizers from plastic products on plants and the environment.