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Posted On: 16 August 2009 10:45 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

:eco:Ban on plastic bags causes confusion

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With the deadline for phasing out the use of plastic bags in bakeries and eateries fast approaching, the operators of most of these outlets are confused about what material they should use to pack food. Early this year, the Emir, H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, ratified a Cabinet decision (No. 1 of 2009) banning the use of plastic bags and newspaper and magazine sheets for packing food items, raw or cooked. The decision also banned the use of plastic bags for packing pastry products that were not frozen. The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning allowed six months’ time for the outlets to comply with the decision. Now, with hardly a fortnight left for the deadline, the operators of bakeries and food outlets are a confused lot for want of specific guidelines from the authorities. They are unsure as to what kind of materials can be used to replace plastic bags and wrappers. The bags and wrappers used by bakeries in Qatar are made out of recycled plastic. Studies have proved that recycled plastic contains toxic chemicals and is a health hazard. Takeaway food wrapped in a recycled plastic film can be toxic as hot food causes chemical components of the plastic to leach into the food. These factors led the authorities to decide to phase out the use of plastic bags and wrappers in food outlets. Enquiries with several bakeries and retail outlets in the city revealed that they had not yet received any instructions or guidelines from the ministry on this subject. “Recently, our sponsor alerted us about the deadline. Since we do not know what kind of materials are to be used in place of plastic, we approached the health department of the Ministry of Municipality. Even the officials couldn’t give a specific answer to us”, said the manager of a leading bakery in Doha. “We haven’t received any specific guidelines regarding the ban. But unlike the earlier practice of instantly packing warm bread, we are keeping it for a while before packing it in plastic covers”, said a baker. He was of the view that even paper is not ideal for wrapping warm bread and khubs. A section of customers said hot khubs packed in plastic often tastes unsavoury. The bakeries, retail and wholesale outlets and food packaging units are awaiting clear guidelines from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning. The food outlets know they have to switch to material other than plastic for packing food items from next month. But what material? They don’t know..