MUSCAT: The Sultanate will initiate the process of banning the circulation of single-use shopping bags from early next year, said the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) on Tuesday. The decision is significant as plastic bags, disposable single-use plastic items, and microbeads are said to be the important sources of plastic pollution.
“Plastic bags have been described as the world’s number one consumer item. Plastic packaging is mostly single-use, especially in business-to-consumer applications, and a majority of it is discarded the same year it is produced,” according to United Nations Environment Programme, which says 60 countries have banned single-use plastic fully or partially.
A team of officials from MECA recently discussed the merits of the plans to prevent the use of single-use plastic shopping bags and replace them with environment-friendly reusable bags.
Apart from members of the team that prepared the draft law, the meeting was attended by concerned officials from the government and the private sector.
MECA has been working in cooperation with the government and private sectors to support international efforts aimed at protecting both human health and the environment.
The new law seeks to address the serious environmental challenges to the environment and public health from non-degradable plastic bags, in addition to the difficulty in their collection and recycling.
The ministry felt it was necessary to develop policies and guidelines for manufacturers and suppliers to ensure a smooth transition to the alternatives of the single-use shopping bag.
During the meeting, several opinions and ideas were raised by the relevant authorities that are key to the effective implementation of this ban in the larger public interest.
It was pointed out that in the future it will not be allowed to supply single-use shopping bags of all different types, without affecting manufacturers and consumers who will have to keep abreast of successive changes due to the relevant agreements at government levels.
Globally, 27 countries have enacted legislation banning specific products — plates, cups, straws, packaging, materials or production levels, while 27 countries have instituted taxes on the manufacture and production of plastic bags while countries charge consumers fees for plastic bags at the national level.