AUG 03, 2016 12:42 PM PDT

Morocco's mission against plastic bags


Morocco's ban on the production and use of plastic bags went into effect July 1 after the plastic ban bill was passed by parliament in October 2015. As the second largest consumer in the world, Morocco uses about 26 billion plastic bags a year, according to the Moroccan news site Yabiladi. The U.S. uses about 100 billion a year, according to the Earth Policy Institute, and 1 trillion are used globally per year.

The North African country has been working on banning plastic bags for years. A ban of the production and use of black plastic bags was put in place in 2009, but the bags were still being produced.
 
Plastic bags are used for everything in daily Moroccan life. Photo: cctv-africa.com

"It's a big cultural shift with that type of broader law," Jennie Romer, a New York-based lawyer," told AlJazeera. "As long as the government has the motivation to really enforce that, there is a lot of potential. The government entity that is implementing it has to be completely on board in order to make that really happen in practice."

For weeks now, awareness campaigns throughout the country have been warning Moroccans against the use of bags, which take hundreds of years to degrade. Their message is simple: plastic bags are unhealthy and dangerous for the ecosystem in a country that struggles to clean its streets and where fields of rubbish plague the local environment.

“If citizens are not aware of the concerns and the challenges we’re facing, things will go much slower,” Mamoun Ghallab, a sustainable development consultant said. “Everything begins and ends with the citizens.”


Plastic bags like this litter the streets, both rural and urban, of Morocco. Photo: riadzany.blogspot.com
 

As stated on AlJazeera, Yassine Zegzouti, the 30 year old president of local advocacy organisation Mawarid, said it is possible for Morocco to totally ban plastic bags, but that changing consumer habits will be the most challenging part.

Such is true about so many public affairs where vast numbers of individual decisions result in a nation or worldwide consequence. With environmental concerns in particular, it is easy to see the fault in others, or to delay making small changes for lack of a seemingly invisible reward; on the flip side, there are so, so many small things that every individual can do on a daily basis that are worth the possible inconvenience of a change in routine. Think about this the next time you buy groceries (with a reusable bag) or dry your clothes (with a drying rack/clothesline) or wash your soap (with detergent that doesn’t pollute the water system).

Watch the following video for a look at what another part of the world, Bali, is doing to rid their plastic bags. 
 


Sources: AlJazeera, EcoWatch, The Huffington Post, African News
 
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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