Experts call for concerted efforts to reduce use of plastic bags

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Black plastic bags are still to be found in abundance in local markets and shops despite the fact that regulation regarding import, production, and circulation of biodegradable plastic bags came into force years ago.اضافة اعلان

According to the ruling, as published in the Official Gazette in March 2017, the production, import, and circulation of black plastic bags, with the exception of those used for waste collection and agricultural seedlings, was prohibited, as was the import, production, and circulation of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags.

The fact that they are still in circulation — amid demands, by various state institutions, for concerted efforts to reduce their use and move toward environment-friendly bags — is due in part to material reasons and in part to a lack of awareness, among consumers and sellers, about the harmful impact of these bags, say commentators interviewed by Jordan News.

Chairman of the Jordan Environmental Union Omar Shoshan said that “the use of plastic bags has not been completely banned until now by successive environment ministers”, and despite the introduction of legislation concerning them for the first time more than six years ago.

According to him, “the main reason is the Ministry of Environment’s lack of capacity or competence to implement this decision on the ground”.

Added to that is the fact that “some manufacturers of plastic bags are working in an unregulated and unlicensed manner, the consumer is still unaware of the importance and danger of this matter, and some sellers use cheap types of bags in the day-to-day because there is no material benefit” that would dissuade them from doing so, he added.

Shoshan said that the government should provide financial incentives to prevent the use of plastic bags, “especially since this sector employs national labor, and preventing the production and circulation of plastic bags would have some economic repercussions”.

He stressed the importance of concerted efforts to prevent or reduce the use of these bags: “There must be comprehensive cooperation among the Chamber of Industry, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Zones Administration, Greater Amman Municipality, and others, in order to obtain real results on the ground.”

Mohammad Tayseer, a seller in a supermarket, told Jordan News that “some shoppers ask me to give them black plastic bags in order to preserve their privacy when buying some specific needs that they prefer to hide”.

He admitted that those plastic bags “are cheaper than environment-friendly bags, and this makes some sellers use them”, and that there is “still insufficient awareness among shoppers and sellers about the impact of plastic bags on the environment”.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment Mohammad Al-Khashashneh told Jordan News that there are about 500 unlicensed factories, “while only 250 are licensed, and this may be the reason black bags still continue to circulate”.

According to him, “a special system was established for inspection and control of facilities producing plastic bags. Violators of the provisions of the system are punished, according to the ministry’s laws”.

Khashashneh also urged citizens to “refuse to place food products, of all kinds, in black bags because they pose a threat to their health and the environment”.

Ministry of Environment Spokesman Ahmad Obeidat told Jordan News that “the ministry is working in full swing, in cooperation with its various partners, to reduce the use of plastic bags significantly”.

He added that “the ministry seeks to raise awareness among entities and individuals about the harm of using plastic bags and to spread awareness about the importance of using environment-friendly bags”.

According to him, “a month and a half ago, the ministry launched a campaign, in cooperation with an international body and an international community organization, whereby more than 35,000 cloth bags were distributed to different shops”.

He noted that “this initiative is just one of several steps taken by the ministry to limit the use of plastic bags.”

“Everyone should know that there is no going back on this matter and that every party involved will carry out the tasks entrusted to it in a professional manner,” he pointed out.

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