Jordan seeks to curb plastic bag use

Jordan’s Ministry of Environment initiated a campaign in early May to enforce 2017 regulations prohibiting the usage, production, and circulation of all black plastic bags except for waste collection.

It also obliges manufacturers to show whether a plastic bag is biodegradable with a symbol on the bag accredited by the ministry and other relevant authorities.

Despite the regulations, consumption and usage of plastic bags is still rampant across stores, groceries, and fruit and vegetable markets, experts and environmentalists observed.

The ministry is exerting its utmost efforts to address the issue, and the cooperation of all parties is indispensable, an official who preferred to remain anonymous at the Ministry of Environment told Xinhua, adding that over 3 billion plastic bags are consumed per year in Jordan.

“Some factories started producing environment-friendly bags, while the alternatives of plastic bags are supposed to be affordable for merchants and owners of stores. And more importantly, we have to raise public awareness in this regard,” the official added.

Rouman Saleem, an environmental engineer, suggested more campaigns to raise awareness among the public, especially in schools and universities, on the dangers of non-biodegradable bags.

Ilham Mahmoud, an economic news editor at the Jordan Press Foundation, said that any initiative to replace plastic bags needs to consider economic repercussions, given that the sector offers hundreds of work opportunities.

Currently, around 250 licensed factories for producing plastic bags are operating in Jordan, while some 500 unlicensed factories are involved in this business, according to the Ministry of Environment.

Noting that the sector employed numerous national laborers, Mahmoud suggested the government provide financial incentives to prevent the use of black plastic.

Yousef Hasheeh, a grocery store owner in the capital Amman, said the cost of plastic bags matters more for sellers.

“I buy 200 pieces of plastic bags for around one Jordanian dinar (about 1.4 U.S. dollars), but the environment-friendly bags made of cloth or paper cost ten times more,” he explained. ■

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