Businesses in Bahrain are seeking a one-year grace period before a ban on single-use plastic bags takes effect.

The government has already announced that the first phase of the move, which focuses on banning the production of single-use plastic bags and import of non-biodegradable plastic bags, will come into effect next month.

It will later be extended to include a permanent ban on plastic bags at malls and supermarkets, a decision that has been warmly welcomed by environmentalists.

However, a leading businessman told the GDN that companies were requesting a 12-month grace period, having already invested in large quantities of plastic bags.

“Nobody objects the idea,” said Khalid Al Amin, who is Midway Supermarket chief executive and chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) food wealth committee.

“We all appreciate the decision.

“The concern is the time factor for factories to shift to new biodegradable alternatives and for us (companies) to sort out the stocks.

“We will need six months to one year. In six months you will see single-use plastics vanish, but there might still be people with some stock.

“I have spoken to Supreme Council for Environment chief executive Dr Mohammed Bin Daina about it.

“He said he understands that we will be given the time we need and they will help us get rid of stocks and make this transition.”

Businessmen discussed the new plastic bag regulations yesterday during a seminar on the topic organised by the BCCI.

The meeting took place in the same week that a senior United Nations (UN) official told the GDN he hoped Bahrain would follow up its ban on plastic bags by outlawing plastic cups, plates and straws.

UN Environment West Asia regional representative and office director Sami Dimassi said 18 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste would stuff the earth’s landfills by 2025, unless people changed their ways.

That is in addition to the eight million tonnes of plastic being dumped into oceans annually.

Mr Dimassi revealed that was the equivalent of dumping one rubbish truck of plastic into the sea every minute.

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