After the ban on single-use plastic bags in Oman, there is a big drop in the overall use of shopping bags.
“Leave alone that fact all the checkouts are free of single-use plastic bags. There has been a substantial fall in the number of other bags as well. Many customers started bringing them from home,” said Rafeeq Ahmed, a salesman at a hypermarket in the capital.
The comment of this salesman is a proof of the success of the decision by the government to ban the single-use plastic bags as part of its endevour to make the Sultanate a plastic-free country in the long run.
“Look at shoppers. Most of them have their own bags to carry back the goods they purchase. Others take them in trolleys till their vehicles. Some of the customers seek the help of the staff at the shops,” said Rafeeq.
Ban on single-use plastic bags, although small, is a critical step towards eliminating a menace from the face of the earth. The consideration and adoption of bag bans have already played a crucial role in drawing attention to the harms of plastic and has pushed people to examine their plastic consumption habits.
“Although the ban won’t solve the plastic crisis on their own, they do help to change plastic consumption habits and cause consumers and retailers to be more open to alternatives,” said Adhil Lawati, who joined the beach cleaning drive launched by Muscat Municipality.
Although consumers have not been willing to give up the habit of walking into the shop without shopping bags. We should not expect them to change overnight, he said. “Everyone forgets sometimes, so make it easy on yourself and keep some bags permanently in your car. Also get into the habit of returning bags to your stash spots once you have emptied the shopping, so that they will be there for next time,” he advised.
Although plastic bags are recyclable, very few actually are because the cost of recycling is greater than the cost of producing new bags. As a result, most plastic bags end up in landfills or as litter in the environment. Paper bags and reusable bags have been suggested as alternatives for plastic bags.
According to Dr Abdullah bin Ali al Amri, Chairman of the Environment Authority, the ban was implemented after studying about its environment impact.
Studies indicate that people worldwide use an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion single-use plastic bags each year. Often described as the number one consumer product in the world, and the most ubiquitous, plastic shopping bags are now among the “most-banned” of the world.
The standard specifications for shopping bags have been adopted and a fine of RO 1,000 will be imposed on non-compliant factories, At the same time, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion issued a decision specifying that polyethylene be used for making reusable shopping bags.
According to the decision, “an administrative fine not exceeding RO 1,000 will be imposed on anyone who violates the provisions of this decision, and the fine is doubled in the event of a repeat offence.”