Egypt Independent

Egypt gears up efforts to expand ‘Enough Plastic Bags’ national initiative



The Ministry of Environment (MOE) distributed at least 4500 environmentally-friendly bags to replace the traditional plastic ones as a part of its ‘enough Plastic Bags’ national Initiative that aims to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic bags, according to a press statement.

The initiative has been officially announced on June 5, 2017 in cooperation with the Center For Environment & Development For The Arab Region & Europe (CEDARE) along with the United Nations Environment Program on the anniversary of the World Environment Day.

The distribution process focused mainly on the Egyptian sports clubs, as the campaign has started with Maadi sports Club targeting the high class members and Al-Jazira Youth sports Center includes lower class members , in an attempt to ensure the participation and representation of different social levels in the clubs.

The campaign, moreover, targets women within the community groups as they use bags on daily basis and they also play a pivotal role as a generation educator who can convey the risks of using non-recyclable plastic bags to other generations.

This initiative comes as a part of a number of measures have been taken recently by the MOE to change the consumer behavior and raise awareness of the harms and risks of plastic bags as well as to switch to other safer alternatives to health and the environment including the paper and biodegradable bags as sustainable and eco-friendly options.

The plastic bags are considered a high-risk option to our environment and health; first they are not recyclable and can take up to hundreds of years to decompose. On another side, huge quantities of them either were thrown to seas and rivers, which endangers the aquatic organisms , or were burnt which causes the emission of toxic gases and particles that weighs badly on the atmosphere and destroys the humans health. Additionally, the plastic bags production process includes high-risk derivatives that interact with food if placed inside, so it presents a strong environmental and economic hazard.

Actually several areas across the world took a series action towards the plastic bags either by imposing a ban on or placing taxes. For instance, Africa tackled the dilemma very strictly as more than 15 countries, including Kenya, Mali, Cameroon, Morocco, Ethiopia,Tanzania and South Africa have either banned them completely or are levying a tax.

While before the 2008 Olympic Games, China prohibited all thin plastic bags and asked retailers to put a tax on thicker bags.

Europe, however, has exerted every effort in its fight against plastic bags. In 1994, Denmark was the first country to impose a tax on plastic bags while the European Union has recently announced its aim to attain 80 percent decline in plastic bag usage by 2019.

Sadly, the United States has not yet banned officially plastic bags, however a big number of states and cities have decided to implement strict measures as California became the first state in 2014 to ban plastic bags and charge for paper bags.

Photo credit: Mario Anzuoni/ Reuters