FILE - Plastic garbage - Pixabay/Ben Kerckx FILE - Plastic garbage - Pixabay/Ben Kerckx

Red Sea to ban using single-use plastic starting June: HEPCA

Tue, Apr. 2, 2019
CAIRO - 2 April 2019: Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) said that Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdullah announced banning the use of single-use plastic starting June 1st, due to its serious environmental damages.

HEPCA, an NGO specialized in conserving marine and land in Egypt's Red Sea, said that the use of disposable plastic causes the death of hundreds of thousands of living creatures in the world.

The decision comes to "protect the threatened and endangered species which are severely affected by ingestion, starvation, suffocation, drowning, entanglement and toxicity from plastic remains which affects the human health accordingly," HEPCA explained

The governorate will prevent factories from producing or distributing plastic bags in the city, according to HEPCA.

The decision to ban the use of the disposable plastic will apply to food outlets, coffee shops, supermarkets, butchers, groceries, pharmacies and other facilities, according to HEPCA, excluding the use of heavy duty garbage bags from the ban.

"HEPCA will be launching an awareness campaign about the negative impacts of plastic on marine life and human health, in addition to on ground activation with events, giving lectures for public and private schools, clean-up campaigns for islands, beaches and underwater in collaboration with schools, diving centers, and the red sea community," the organization said.

In June last year, former Ministry of Environment participated in the 2018 World Environment Day under the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which focuses on how plastic, one of the most dangerous pollutants, affects our ecosystems and environment.

Khaled Fahmy said the ministry launched in 2017 a new national initiative to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, and use biodegradable bags as well as long term bags.

Fahmy said during the celebrations of the World Environment Day that bags made of recycled fabric are a better alternative for plastic, adding that plastic bags will no longer be available for free.

In the same context, Mohamed Shehab, CEO of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), said that the national EU-funded initiative to reduce the consumption of plastic bags has been launched on June 5, 2017, during which around 4.5 million tons of biodegradable plastic bags were distributed in 18 months.

He further explained that Egypt is committed to the 2030 strategic development plan for sustainable development to stop using plastic bags, remarking that several Arab and African countries have already done so.

He said that Egypt consumes 12 billion tons of single-use plastic bags annually, at a cost of LE 2 billion, adding that the agency tends to reduce the use of plastic bags through encouraging producers to manufacture disposable and paper bags.

In line with the global move to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, Fahmy extended the activities of his ministry’s new national initiative called “Enough Plastic Bags.”

Fahmy participated on May 4 in an initiative by distributing 4,500 non-woven bags as alternatives to traditional non-recycled plastic bags. About 4,500 eco-friendly biodegradable plastic bags, which decompose through living organisms, have been circulated since the launch of the initiative.

Many animals die after swallowing these plastic bags. Plastic bags are also often burned, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Environment has launched a public advertisement campaign to raise awareness on the hazard of plastic bags.

Many other African counties have launched initiatives to put an end to the plastic bag hazard. In 2008, Rwanda became one of the first African countries to impose a complete ban on thin plastic bags as part of its Vision 2020 plan for sustainability. Currently, all plastic bags used in Rwanda are biodegradable.
 
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