Effective Friday July 1, 2016; Morocco started the enforcement of a ban on plastic bags. Today’s move comes on the back of a landmark bill passed by the Parliament in October 2015.
The bill banned the nationwide production, import, sale and distribution of plastic bags. The ban is seen as part of a larger environmentally conscious effort across the North African country to go green.
The law is timely, especially when the Kingdom is ranked as the largest consumer of plastic bags in Africa and the second in the world after the US, with consumption of some 26 billion plastic bags (900 bags per capita) annually.
Even though manufacture and marketing of plastic bags are punishable by fines within the framework of the new law, there is still large pockets of resistance, as people rushed to stockpile reserves of reusable bags ahead of the enforcement.
The Moroccan Minister of Industry however clarified in a tweet that there was going to be several alternatives made available in the wake of the ban, citing the use of paper and fabric.
This measure spares cooler bags, freezing those for the agricultural and industrial sector, or to the collection of household waste
— Moulay Hafid Elalamy (MyHafidElalamy) October 30, 2015
FoutographePlusieurs solutions alternatives seront proposées (en papier, en tissu, ...). Le sacs de congélation et surgélation sont exclus
The government had ken extensive media campaigns to notify and sensitize individuals and businesses on the need to switch to more environmentally friendly means of packaging.
The government tasked citizens to change their habits, but according to local media, they also invested millions of Moroccan dirhams into encouraging the industry to transform their production of the bags.
Plastic bags have become a headache for most African economies who find it difficult to control plastic waste with efforts at recycling also proving too expensive to undertake. Local authorities have tried to control polythene but have more often than not failed to regulate much more to eradicate.
Morocco however ranks alongside Costa Rica, Bhutan and Ethiopia as one of the world’s greenest countries, a feat they achieved partly due to the effective measures put in place to check carbon emissions.