The decision taken by the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment to ban the manufacture of certain types of plastic bags throughout the territory came into force on September 1, 2022.
The cessation of plastic bag manufacturing was decided during a working session chaired by the Minister of the Environment, Leila Chikhaoui. The decree relating to the fixing standards for evaluating the biodegradation of plastic bags intended for the internal market was also discussed, according to the Réalités website.
Tunisia intends to favor biodegradable bags, which take drastically less time to degrade in the environment than plastic bags.
Plastic bags take about one to four centuries to decompose. More than 500 billion plastic bags are consumed each year on the planet.
During a meeting held at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Environment by Minister Chikhaoui, the participants, including representatives of the Trade Union Chamber of the plastics industry of UTICA, agreed to continue coordination concerning the guidelines adopted at the international level and aimed at developing an international document that will end plastic pollution by 2024.
Environment Minister Laila Chikhaoui explained that this decision to ban the production of plastic bags was taken following the deterioration of the environmental situation, particularly in residential areas. She indicated that this measure concerns all governorates but that fines will be reserved for offenders.
It should be remembered that in Tunisia, the promise of this ban goes back more than two years. The production, possession, import, and distribution of plastic bags of all kinds, obtained free of charge or for payment in commercial outlets, should be prohibited since March 2020. “The government decree of January 16, 2020, should enter into force from March 1, 2020, for shopping centers and pharmacies, and January 1, 2021, for all producers, importers, distributors, and holders of plastic bags. But its application has been suspended under pressure from the professionals in the sector”, explains Réalités.
Today, the world produces 20 times more plastic than 40 years ago. Each year, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on aquatic animals, fisheries, tourism, and marine ecosystems.
According to a recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, less than 14% of plastic products are recyclable. However, innovations are urgently needed to treat the remaining 86%, which, according to experts, would generate between 80 and 120 billion dollars and get us closer to a regenerative economy.
Africa has not been spared from this scourge. According to the United Nations, more than 4.4 million tons of plastic end up in the seas and oceans every year. While most plastic waste in Africa does not come from the continent, African cities and coastal towns are also struggling to keep up with their plastic scrap.