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Authorities eyeing gradual shift to paper bags, biodegradable plastic bags

‘Seven factories produce biodegradable plastic bags; four produce paper shopping bags’

By Hana Namrouqa - Dec 17,2016 - Last updated at Dec 17,2016

SAHAB — A draft by-law on the use, production and import of plastic bags is being amended at the Legislation and Opinion Bureau and will enter into force as of next year, according to the Ministry of Environment.

The new by-law also regulates the use of biodegradable materials in the production of plastic bags to reduce their lifespan to 18 months, according to ministry officials, who said that the draft by-law came to curb the spread of plastic bags, reduce their impact on the environment and the time it takes for a plastic bag to biodegrade.

More factories in Jordan are turning into the production of biodegradable plastic bags and paper bags to eventually replace plastic bags that take decades to break down in landfills, officials said on Saturday.

Biodegradable plastic bags and paper bags are becoming available in the local market at affordable prices, Minister of Environment Yaseen Khayyat said, underscoring that accessibility to eco-friendly alternatives to the ordinary plastic bag that damages the environment necessitates the shift.

During a tour of two factories that manufacture biodegradable plastic bags and paper bags in Sahab and Muwaqqar, south of the capital, Khayyat highlighted that the ministry has contacted consumer associations, shopping malls and pharmacy chains to ask them to abandon the use of regular plastic bags and turn to biodegradable plastic bags and paper bags.

The minister said it is no longer acceptable to continue using plastic bags that pollute the environment, noting that the ministry is raising public awareness on the health and environmental dangers of plastic bags and urging consumers to turn to eco-friendly alternatives.

Seven factories in Jordan are now producing biodegradable plastic bags, while up to four factories produce paper shopping bags, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, Isa Shboul.

Official figures indicate that 400 local factories produce plastic bags, while Jordanians use 3 billion bags annually, only 20 per cent of which find their way to landfills.

While the under-amendment draft by-law on plastic bags will introduce changes to the use and production of plastic bags in Jordan, it is not expected to phase out their use swiftly, Shboul said, noting that the process will be gradual and will take into consideration the scale of investment in the sector.

 

According to sector businesspeople, there are 1,329 plastics, packaging and container factories in the Kingdom that offer 24,000 job opportunities, representing 10 per cent of workers in the industrial sector.

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