Muscat – As part of its efforts to achieve Oman Vision 2040 in environmental sustainability, Environment Authority (EA), in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP), will ban all plastic shopping bags this year in phases, according to Dr Mohammad Majid al Kasbi, director, Department of Chemical Materials at EA.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Kasbi said, “EA, in cooperation with the concerned authorities, will begin to gradually ban all plastic bags used for shopping.
“The first phase targets the health sector, such as pharmacies. This step is a complement to the decision to ban the use of single-use shopping bags from January 1, 2021.”
Except for environmentally friendly polypropylene bags, he said, EA will prevent the use of plastic bags of all thicknesses for shopping completely in the sultanate.
The authority is working in tandem with several authorities, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the Consumer Protection Authority and MoCIIP, to spread awareness of the importance of using environmentally friendly bags.
“We have distributed 800,000 environmentally friendly bags so far and organised 125 awareness workshop to spread a culture of using environment friendly materials and raise social awareness about the negative impacts of plastics to man and the environment.”
The authority has been running more than 63 awareness campaigns in several governorates to reduce the use of plastic since last year.
However, even with the partial ban, EA has recorded over 70 violations of shops distributing banned plastic bags. “They were warned and urged to adhere to the rules,” he said.
Ban on import comes into effect
In September 2022, H E Qais Mohammed al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, issued a Ministerial Decision (No 519/2022) banning the import of plastic bags, which came into effect on January 1 this year.
It warned that any individual importing plastic bags will be slapped an administrative fine of RO1,000.
“The decision aims to prevent the import of materials and goods that will harm the Omani environment and is part of a comprehensive plan agreed upon by MoCIIP with the Environment Authority,” Kasbi said.
According to him, the local plastic bag factories will make up for the shortfall in the market until the complete ban is introduced.
“Eliminating plastic bags is one of the challenges that the authority seeks to overcome in cooperation with the concerned authorities and find specifications for manufacturers and suppliers to ensure the correct transition to alternatives to plastic bags that harm the environment.”
Many Omani factories have started producing environmentally friendly bags to support EA’s decision and promote the circular and green economy, informed Kasbi.