Muscat: Oman will soon ban plastic bags from all supermarkets, according to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.
“After studying the market and the types of bags, the decision will see the light of day soon after the final approval from the specifications and standards committee at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,” said an official at the ministry.
Earlier in the day, Mohammed bin Salim Al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs, told the Shura Council, “We have completed the regulation on the use of plastic bags to limit their hazards on the environment and human health, as well as the sustainability of the ecological system and biodiversity. We are waiting for the technical regulations from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.”
A manager of a supermarket chain said that around 75,000 to 80,000 plastic bags are consumed in a day at his branch.
“On an average, we get around 15,000 visitors who take home around five bags each, every day,” he said.
In a statement shared with the Times of Oman, Environment Society of Oman (ESO) Programme Director Suaad Al Harthi said, “ESO is very supportive of a reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags and a move towards reusable alternatives. Various plastics, including plastic bags, pose a threat to humans, marine life and the environment in general as they are very persistent and take hundreds of years to break down.”
She added, “Our oceans are littered with plastics, which make their way into the sea and are then ingested by sea turtles, sea birds and other marine life causing suffocation or starvation. Likewise, plastics end up in deserts and threaten camels and other wildlife. As plastics break down, they also enter the food chain and are then ingested by humans through seafood.”
Even the Muscat Municipality is considering proposals to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Speaking about the dangers of plastic, Dr. Sudheer Kumar Shulka of the Caledonian College of Engineering said, “Neither the earth nor the ocean can decompose plastic. The only solution is avoidance; just use cloth and jute bags instead of plastic bags. This small and simple step by us could save millions of innocent creatures such as dolphins, whales, seals, sea turtles, cows, horses, camels, polar bears, sea birds etc.”
One of the proposals involves hypermarkets and shops providing paper bags to customers in place of plastic bags.