Plastic bag import clampdown leading to local manufacture

High government import taxes on plastic bags, intended to reduce their use, has prompted some businesses in the country to manufacture their own plastic bags.

While a 200 per cent duty import duty is levied on plastic bags, the import duty for raw materials is 25 per cent.

The manager of a popular bakery in Male’ told Minivan News that the store had a machine able to produce 45,000 to 50,000 plastic bags everyday.

He added that the bags were produced for their own use and were not for sale.

“We cannot use paper bags to pack bread,” he said. ”I do not think that it is done anywhere in the world.”

Moreover, he said, the bakery had been producing plastic bags for ten years now.

”We do not have any permission from the environment ministry,” he said. ”We did not ask for permission because we use it for our own purpose,”

He said the company imported raw materials needed to produce plastic bags.

“We sometimes produce blue color plastic bags also, we can do any color we want,”‘ he said. “We import the raw materials mainly from Dubai and Saudi Arabia.”

However, an employee in an office located behind the bakery told Minivan News that he and his colleagues were “unable to work” whenever the machine was being operated, because of the toxic fumes.

”When they turn it on, a smell like paint thinner spreads through the whole area,” he said. “We get headaches, feel like vomiting and experience difficulty breathing when the fumes reach us.”‘

Everyone in the area faced the problem, he claimed.

”The substances they uses are very toxic,” he said. ”That’s why we feel ill when the fumes are released.”

Deputy Environment Minister Mohamed Shareef said that there were two companies permitted to produce plastic bags in the Maldives.

‘There will be no company permitted in Male’,” Shareef said. ”We give the permission after conducting an environment inspection survey.”

Shareef said that the government was trying to completely ban plastic bags in the Maldives.

”We are trying to make a law to ban the importation and production of plastic bags,” he said.

Shareef concurred that the fumes released when producing plastic bag contained toxic substances.

Head of Environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, said that although the government’s 200 per cent tax on plastic bags was intended to discourage people from using it ”now they have started to bring in raw materials and establish factories.”

Rilwan said that the manufacture of plastic bags in a residential area poses health risks.

”People living near the bakery complain that they can’t breathe when the machine is on,” he said.


12 thoughts on “Plastic bag import clampdown leading to local manufacture”

  1. Perhaps they have not heard of companies like Warburtons who have packed their bread in paper for ages.

  2. Bread has been on the market centuries before the invention of the plastic bag. In fact many bakers use paper bags for bread. Also, we can encourage people to take their own bags when they go shopping! We need innovative, responsible citizens who are willing to compromise convenience and comfort for the greater benefit. Yes,plastic is cheap and easy but Maldives is 99% ocean and the rest 1% is completely at the mercy of the ocean. Plastic is extremely harmful for coral reefs and marine species (we learnt that in 5th grade, no?). Countries that are equally poor or poorer than Maldives, such as Bangladesh and Rwanda, have completely banned plastic bags. We can do it too.

  3. Most artisan breads are sold in paper bags. Though I can see how people would think it would be easier to preserve freshness in pre-sliced bread through plastic bags.

    Either way, the government needs to clamp down on anyone who is producing bags illicitly. It is a danger to the community and the national wellbeing to allow laws to be broken without repercussions.

  4. Too little too late Dr. Shareef. You would have been well aware that these people manufacture the bags and of the smell in the neighborhood. Can't really blame you because implementing and enforcing such things isn't your thing. Stick to your field please!

  5. Well...

    I doubt they built the machine that makes the bag from raw materials either.

    So... importing plastic bags is illegal, but importing a machine to make them, along with all the ingredients you need isn't.

    Huh. So I guess that gives druggies the go-ahead to open up a heroin factory.

    The ministries really need to step up and take some serious action against issues such as these. Show these people that breaking the law and harming the environment and the people around them has consequences.

    If it's illegal, go send in a police team and start confiscating. There's no need to send a "bill to allow police to dismantle machines making plastic bags" to parliamen =/.

  6. If it is the bakery that starts with Al- and ends with -cyon, it does sell plastic bags to other shops as well.

    Bread not packed in paper anywhere in the world?? Huh? Where did they get this from? Fresh bread is packed in paper!

    It's a disgrace that Maldives has not become head of the situation by now - everything that could possibly go wrong, is going wrong here.
    Awareness about this environmental hazard: zero.
    Using own shopping bag: zero.
    Taking responsibility of the environment: zero.
    A plastic recycling factory in the country: Not available - plastic is being stockpiled.
    Public dustbins: more or less zero.
    Garbage dumping into the sea: common (especially by resorts!)

    I've conducted a workshop on exactly this topic with school kids grades 3 - 7: within a week, we could dramatically reduce the amount of plastic bags a family uses by JUST educating and providing cotton shopping bags. I got positive response from both students and parents.

    Maybe we should thing how our country will look like in future if we continue throwing garbage into the sea (a plastic bag on the street will eventually end up in the sea) and accepting plastic bags for every purchase.

    I always wanted to know how many plastic bags the STO pharmacy gives away every day, even for a Panadol card you get one, or for other small medicine which you can easily put into your pocket.

    It's a SHAME that nothing has been happening here all these years - the previous government couldn't make it, and I am curious to see what this government has to offer - so far I can't see more dustbins on the streets than 2 years ago, I can't see more awareness (except for Nala nala rajje on some inhabited islands), I really don't see anything happening - the ferries to Villingili now have dustbins but people are still throwing everything out of the window.

    I am for punishments like in Singapore - it's hard but the only possible way out!

  7. Producing plastic bags and bread in a same building....what a formulae!

  8. not bad... lets import marijuana seeds instead of hash oil or just leaves..

  9. If plastic bags and bread are manufactured in the same place there will be potential health hazards. This is a matter to be investigated IMMIDIATELY. There can be a possibility that those consuming these bakery products are getting poisoned slowly.

  10. A greedy selfish businessman who cares less of health and environment, but a quick back! An idiot actually, to say no one packs bread in paper bags. He is not a muslim!


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