MUSCAT: Citizens and residents have warmly embraced the recent decision by the Environment Authority (EA) to gradually phase out plastic bags by 2027.
The directive, outlined in ministerial resolution No.8/2024, establishes a clear timeline for the elimination of plastic shopping bags, commencing from July 1, 2024, in a phased approach targeting specific sectors every six months.
“The Environment Authority’s decision marks a pivotal moment in our environmental efforts,” said Rumaitha Al Busaidy, an environmental activist. “It signals a commitment to sustainability and underscores the importance of collective action in preserving our planet.”
She added: “The phased approach ensures a smooth transition towards sustainability while allowing businesses ample time to adapt. It’s a collective effort to protect our environment for future generations.”
The EA’s initiative begins with pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics. It mandates companies, institutions, and individuals to refrain from using single-use plastic shopping bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns. Violators face fines ranging from OMR 50 to OMR 1,000, with doubled penalties for repeat offenses.
“Welcoming the decision for total ban on plastic shopping bags, Samira Al Balushi, a senior employee in the ministry, said: ‘We all are feeling the impact of global warming caused by the pollution. The decision to ban all plastic shopping bags will help preserve our environment. We need to play a big role to ensure that the future of the world is safeguarded,'” the statement read.
Amit Agarwal, an Indian expatriate, hailed the phased ban on plastic usage as a commendable step towards environmental stewardship.
He said: “It is the responsibility of citizens towards Mother Nature and our environment. Multiple-use eco-friendly bags made of cloth, paper or other organic materials can be used. These bags can be used over hundreds of times, while plastic shopping bags are used only once and take more than a thousand years to degrade.”
Agarwal underscored Oman’s natural beauty and expressed optimism that the initiative would foster a more eco-friendly society, urging active cooperation from citizens and residents.
He emphasised the imperative of long-term sustainable development and the need for public awareness campaigns to address the adverse effects of plastic pollution.
“The phased approach ensures a smooth transition towards sustainability while allowing businesses ample time to adapt,” remarked Manoj Didwania, a business owner. “It’s a collective effort to protect our environment for future generations.”
He added: “The EA’s decision reflects a concerted effort towards a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations, prompting a collective shift towards sustainable practices.”
Starting from January 1, 2025, the decision will be applied in fabric, textile, clothing, textile, and other stores, tailoring stores, eyeglasses stores, mobile phone sales and maintenance stores, watches selling and maintenance stores, and furniture, furnishings, and household supplies stores.
Plastic shopping bags will be banned in food stores, fruit, vegetable and packaging stores, gift shops, bakeries, bread, pastry and sweets shops, candy factories and candy shops, starting July 1, 2025.
From January 1, 2026, the decision will begin to be implemented in building and construction materials stores, utensils stores, stores that sell fodder, grains, agricultural materials, and pesticides, stores that sell ice cream, corn, sweets, and nuts, stores that sell juices, stores that sell Mashek, mills, stores that sell honey, stores that sell dates, and stores that sell and repairing water filters.
In addition to stores that sell and maintain water pumps, stores that sell and maintain car pumps, stores that sell modern irrigation systems, and stores that sell birds, fish, pets, related foods, sheds, and agricultural supplies.
The decision to ban plastic shopping bags will be implemented in furniture stores, blankets, daggers, gold and silverware stores, car care centers and car dealerships, starting from July 1, 2026.
On January 1, 2027, the decision will be implemented in stores selling electronics, sanitary and electrical materials, and stores selling fish supplies, vehicle repair workshops, and fishing boat repair workshops. In addition to shops that sell vehicle spare parts, shops that sell fishing equipment spare parts, vehicle electricians, and vehicle oil change shops.
Also, vehicle brake repair shops, tire sales and repair shops, electrical appliances and television broadcasting equipment sales and repair shops, computer equipment selling, repair and maintenance shops, and stationery, office supplies and printing press shops.
The decision to ban the plastic shopping bags will be implemented on July 1, 2027 in all other activities that use all-plastic bags.
The phased implementation schedule spans various industries, with restrictions progressively enforced from January 1, 2025, until July 1, 2027, covering a wide array of businesses.
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