Minister of Environment propagates Another Alternative for Single-Use Plastic Bags  

Again, H. E. Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of Environment, gets in person together with Egyptian consumers of plastic bags. This took place in a fresh and lively morning through his visit to Maadi Club on Friday 4th of May, 2018, after he had visited 4 hypermarket chains 5 months earlier. In the context of the National Initiative of Reducing Plastic Bags’ Consumption, Dr. Fahmy, CEDARE, and the ministry’s top management and executives visited Maadi Club accompanied by a large number of media representatives.

The chairman of the club welcomed the guests and, in turn, announced Maadi club as the first Egyptian club free of plastic bags. Meeting with the club members, the minister and executives running the initiative promoted reusable or multi-use bags as another environment-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags, besides biodegradable plastic bags. This was achieved by raising awareness of the harms and dangers of the high-rate use of plastic bags at the environmental, economic & health levels as well as bringing to their minds an easy-to-get, durable and practical alternative; namely the reusable/multi-use bags, which can be either made of water proof, textile, canvas, or woven palm leaves, and many more. On the same day, members received the initiative’s multi-use bags as an impetus small gift taking them back to the bags elders used to carry in the 70s & 80s.

Numerous visits to sports and Rotary clubs and youth centers will follow during the next few months, where 6000 multi-use bags will be disseminated, as part of a summer and public awareness raising activities plan.   

During the visit, H.E. Dr. Fahmy addressed the members and media representatives explaining the hazards of plastic bags currently used and stated that the initiative focused on finding different alternatives catering for every need according to the nature of commercial goods. “Egypt has to take a serious action against the hazardous single use non-degradable plastic bags and dramatically decrease consumption as an initial step until legitimately banned”, said Dr. Fahmy.

Dr. Hossam Allam, Manager of Sustainable Growth Programme, CEDARE, added that “Egypt consumes around 12 billion plastic bags every year; a real threat to human health, fish & marine life, coral reefs, diving and environmental tourism, water drains, desert animals and more. What we badly need is, at least, to change Egyptians’ behavior and decrease the current consumption rate, and improve consumers’ behavior towards resources”.

On the very same day, Al Gezira Youth Center was the initiative’s next stop, as members’ turnout is at its best on weekends. The initiative executives, led by Mr. Shehab Abdel Wahab, Executive Director, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), explained their cause to members of different age groups; males and females, who acted positively in response.

The responsive feedback of the members was notable; they positively expressed their wish to change that hazardous plastic bag. The same question was commonly asked by members “where to buy reusable bags?” which reflects an eager and serious intention to join forces.

The initiative was launched in June 2017 in the framework of the SwitchMed Demo Project implemented in collaboration between the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region & Europe (CEDARE) and under the umbrella of the UN Environment and the SwitchMed Regional Programme, funded by the European Commission.