The end of 2017 brought us a sequel to the award winning Planet Earth; and along with this visually stunning nature series came a general mass-awakening to the human responsibility of preserving the planet we live upon.
A hot political topic in January 2018 has been the damaging effects of plastic waste on the ecology of sea life, as well as the consequential damage to all of our environments. There are several efforts being made to create change in the way that Morocco uses plastics & opportunities for people visiting Marrakech to minimise their “plastic footprint”.
Back in November 2016, Marrakech was the chosen location for Cop 22; the twenty-second session of The Conference Of Parties, in a discussion about how to move towards a multilateral co-operation about climate change. Although just a small step in the right direction, this meeting and the festivities around it have sparked a dialogue amongst residents of Morocco & created a wave of up and coming projects which focus on creating a more “green” Morocco.
One of the consequential law changes made in Morocco following Cop 22, was the national ban on disposable plastic bags. Unlike the laws in much of the EU, which allow the continuation of plastic bag production, but at the cost of the consumer; the governing body in Morocco aims to completely eradicate the presence and production of disposable bags in the entire country. This movement has been in play since early 2009, but reached a real progression point following this festival.
This legislation is known as “Zero-Mika”; mika meaning plastic in the local Arabic dialect. The implementation of this law was one of the first of it’s kind in Africa, with Rwanda being the only other African country at the time to support a blanket-ban on plastic bags.
According to a few news sources; Moroccan authorities seized in excess of 420 tonnes of plastic bags in the year after the law was implemented. To put that into some perspective, that’s around the weight equivalent of 30 double-decker buses! This fact alone is surely a testament to the time when Morocco was named the world’s second-largest consumer of plastic bags and a strong indication of the importance of this ban.
So naturally, the public of Morocco required a suitable alternative to plastic bags. There are essentially two “green” options currently available in the world and those are recyclable or biodegradable. The Moroccan parliament have moved in favour of encouraging re-usable carrier bags, rather than biodegradable. These re-usable bags are now readily available (gratuit!) from many convenience stores in Marrakech.
It is really important that these options are carefully considered when finding solutions to cut-down the use of non-recyclable materials. The steps we take now are pivotal in influencing climate change and establishing a balance between consumerism, capitalism and environmentalism! Biodegradable bags are problematic, because of the time time it takes for them to decompose, as well as where they eventually settle to begin this process. Re-usable bags are a great solution, provided we follow suit and vow to re-cycle them so that their production will be minimised.
Look out for these free re-usable carriers on your next visit to Morocco and dare to refuse disposable plastic bags when offered to you by shop keepers. The only way that these incentives can work is if we (the consumers) engage with them. If you are traveling and you find that you are left with an excess of re-usable carrier bags, consider taking them back to your local shop before you leave as they will certainly be used again. Alternatively, the large re-usable bags make ideal laundry bags for your travels.
Bravo Morocco, for taking responsible steps and leading by example!