With only five days to go before a ban on single-use plastic bags in shopping centres comes into effect in Oman, the Environment Authority (EA) is leaving no stone unturned to raise awareness on the implementation of the new measure and preparing everyone for the ban. The authority is also planning to replace one-time use plastic water bottles with glass ones in the future.
Over 30,000 environmentally friendly bags will be distributed free in the country starting January 1, 2021, according to Dr Mohammad Majid al Kasbi, director, Department of Chemical Materials, at the EA.
“The EA, in cooperation with competent authorities, will gradually begin to ban single-use plastic bags in the country. In the first phase, the ban will be effective in shopping centres. In the second phase, we will prohibit the use of plastic bags in bakeries and butcher’s shops,” Kasbi said.
He highlighted the issue of increasing use of plastics, especially bags, and the grave concern about their impact on wildlife and marine life, as well as the presence of these wastes on the seabed where it can remain forever. “It requires a serious response to solve this problem,” Kasbi said.
Talking about the EA’s efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags, he said, “The authority has cooperated with several relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the Consumer Protection Authority, and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion to spread awareness on the importance of using environmentally friendly bags.
“We distributed thousands of environmentally friendly bags this year. The EA’s initiative to distribute more than 30,000 free eco-friendly bags starting January 1 will target school students, universities and citizen’s homes in several governorates across the sultanate. It will take place in cooperation with the governor’s offices in the wilayats. Many commercial centres have agreed to offer their customers eco-friendly bags for free when they shop from them.”
Talking about the alternatives available, Kasbi said, “Multi-use bags are an option. The multi-use eco-friendly bags are made of cloth, paper or other organic materials. These bags can be used over hundreds of times, while the plastic shopping bags are used only once and take more than a thousand years to degrade.
“Plastic bags end up in landfills and the sea. They strangle animals and are present in the environment. We urge all members of society to cooperate with the concerned authorities to reduce the use of plastic bags. Use environmentally friendly bags to protect the environment from pollution and to protect natural life in Oman.”
Meanwhile, the authority has informed that violators of the decision will be liable to pay a fine of no less than RO100 and no more than RO2,000. The fine will double in case of a repeat violation, it stated.