Dr Mohammed Al Kasbi, director of chemicals and wastes management at the EA and environment activist Rumaitha Al Busaidi.
MUSCAT: Oman's endeavour to make the country environment-friendly took a big step forward after the ban on the import of plastic bags came into force on January 1, 2023.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry issued the 519/2022 decision and Investment Promotion (MOCIIP) in September 2022 and prohibited companies, institutions, and individuals from importing plastic bags. Breaching the ban is punishable by a fine of OMR1,000, and the amount may be doubled for a repeat offence.
Leading environmental activist Rumaitha Al Busaidi welcomed the ban and said, “it would go a long way in preserving the Omani environment from pollution and waste harmful to the rich marine life and wildlife.”
Rumaitha, who is serving as director of the Environmental Society of Oman (ESO), said: “It is a welcome decision that shows Oman is taking appropriate steps to ensure that the country can achieve its commitments towards local value and the environment. I hope that this is one of many more monumental steps that Oman strives to achieve its newly announced net-zero target by 2050.”
It may be mentioned that the Environment Authority (EA) of Oman implemented the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in January 2021.
Dr Mohammed Al Kasbi, director of chemicals and wastes management at the EA, said: “The move is consistent with the government's policies to protect the country's environment. We banned single-use plastic shopping bags in 2021, and this latest enforcement of the ban on import of plastic bags by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Promotion underlines the prudent policies to safeguard the Oman environment.”
Al Kasbi added: “The EA and other stakeholders have concrete plans to make Oman one of the leading environment-friendly countries.”
“We are signatories to the Basel Convention on controlling transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. We already have strong measures, be it replacing single-use bags with thicker 50-micron bags, which are free at most shops.
“Oman is one of many countries in the region working towards reducing its dependency on single-use plastics responsible for thousands of marine animals getting killed each year by ingesting plastic or getting tangled in it.”
Al Kasbi said: “Eliminating plastic bags is one of the challenges that the ministry 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. The ban will not affect plastic production facilities in the country. The decision intends to help local plastic production factories to augment sales and production to meet local market demands. The decision will limit unfair competition from imported products that do not meet environmental standards.”
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