Challenges of Shifting to Plastic Bags Alternatives discussed with the Government Officials

As the governmental sector is a key player in policy-making and regulating consumption patterns, another consultation session was jointly organized by CEDARE and the Ministry of Environment, on May 22nd, 2017, in a series of consecutive sessions as part of the agenda of SwitchMed Demo Reduction of Plastic Bags Consumption Project, inDSC_7098 partnership with the UN Environment. The consultation session was attended by several governmental authorities including the Chamber of Chemical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, the Directorate of Environmental Safety at the Ministry of Higher Education, the Directorate of Environmental Monitoring at the Ministry of Health & Population, and Ministry of Water Resources & Irrigation.

Throughout the meeting, speakers shed light on the harms of plastic bags, discussed the feasibility of reducing plastic bags and turning to a sustainable and environment-friendly alternative. Experts at the Plastic Technology Center introduced a comprehensive study on the dangers of plastic bags and the Egyptian market in specific. Presentations reflected how crucial such an initiative is at the environmental, health, economic and social levels. Discussions covered the role of each ministry or authority in controlling excessive consumption and taking the necessary measures and regulations to reduce non-degradable plastic bags, taking into consideration the social dimension, the legality of imposing taxes on using plastic bags, lessons learnt from other countries’ and South Sinai’s success stories, legislation sides, projected obstacles and means to overcome, next steps and recommended scenarios, and many other technical aspects.

Needless to say that non-degradable plastic bags remain a sheer threat to human health, fish & marine life, coral reefs, diving and environmental tourism, water drains, desert animals and more. Consequently, in December 2016, the Ministry of Environment, CEDARE, and the UN Environment launched the SwitchMed Demo Project for Reduction of Plastic Bags Consumption, under the umbrella of SwitchMed Regional Programme funded by the EU. The Project is implemented in collaboration with large FMCG chains, hyper markets, pharmacies, and clubs to influence the Egyptians’ behavior decreasing the current consumption rate as a start and improving consumers’ attitude towards resources, by using an environment-friendly alternative bag.