The ban, effective from January 1, stems from a 2020 law aimed at reducing plastic waste and its serious damage to the environment. It means that shoppers can get only single-use bags made from recycled paper or other organic materials.
There was little evidence in Yerevan of retailers’ compliance with the new requirement. Supermarket chains and grocery stores across the city clearly did not abandon plastic bags.
“No, they didn’t offer me any alternative,” a man carrying groceries in such a bag told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service as he left a shop.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Environment Minister Hakob Simidian touted the ban’s entry into force during a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. But they seemed to acknowledge problems with its enforcement.
Pashinian stressed that it is local government bodies, rather than state inspectorates subordinate to the central government, that are supposed to ensure retailers’ compliance with the requirement. He told Minister for Territorial Administration Gnel Sanosian and provincial governors to make this clear to city mayors and other community heads.
Pashinian warned that the government will task its inspectorates with enforcing the ban if local authorities fail to do the job.