ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A local administration in the Kurdistan Region on Monday announced the closure of 17 bakeries that were using plastic bags to store bread and buns amid a ban, whose regulation began on July 1.
The Mayoral office of Kalar District, headed by Shahab Ahmad, said in a statement that the move comes as concerns rise over the health risks associated with storing the food items in plastic bags.
Health officials have said that storing warm bread in plastic bags leads to its chemical compounds dissolving into the food item, possibly causing health problems like cancer.
“The stores that have been shut down will not be permitted to open until they comply with the edict of Kalar administration,” which stated such establishments “must use paper bags,” Ahmad warned.
Kalar is part of the Sulaimani province, which issued the mandate nearly two years ago. However, local authorities have found it challenging to enforce the measure because of budgetary constraints due to an economic crisis.
However, as the Kurdistan Region recovers its finances, various municipalities have begun to fund the ban. The Sulaimani district announced in a statement in late April “the formation of a committee” that would facilitate using “paper bags instead of nylon” in various bakeries across the city.
However, as the regulation imposes extra costs on bakeries with the added price of the new packaging, bakers have expressed worries about the future of their businesses. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) controls the price of bread.
While many acknowledge the health risks associated with the use of plastic bags, they fear the loss of profit as costs of production would only increase following the new rule, despite the price of their product unchanged.
“We were using paper bags before, and there was much demand for it as it was less [hazardous] to people’s health,” one bakery owner in Sulaimani told Kurdistan 24 in early May.
“We hope the manufacturers of these bags reduce their prices because the flour has now become more expensive as well as tools used to make bread.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany