A product manufactured by Okeanos International- the photo courtesy of the company’s Twitter account
CAIRO – 16 May 2022: To reduce plastic and CO2 footprint, Egypt headed to take advantage of a new technology of producing plastics made from stones.
The Egyptian Ministry of Environment, the International Company for Petroleum and Industrial Services “INCOM” and the “Okeanos International” company signed a memorandum of understanding (UoM) on Sunday to establish a joint venture called “Okeanos Egypt” to manufacture alternatives to plastics via using “Made from Stone” technology.
As per the new deal, “Okeanos Egypt” project aims at producing plastic based on calcium-carbonate (limestone) technology with an addition to a very small percentage of raw plastic (polypropylene [PP] or polyethylene), a technology that is able to reduce single-use plastics and CO2 emissions, the Egyptian cabinet announced in a statement.
The new MoU comes in light of attracting investments of the private sector for the green and blue economies within the framework of Egypt’s hosting of the COP27 climate conference due to convene in Sharm El Sheikh city, said Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad after the signature of the deal.
The factory of the “Okeanos Egypt” will be established in the 10th of Ramadan city, the statement said.
“The introduction of the Made from Stone technology to the Middle East region will significantly reduce the use of plastics and CO2 emissions. The project will create many promising job opportunities in the Egyptian market, through an ambitious investment plan over three years with US$ 50 million,” said CEO of the INCOM Amr Sheta.
He added that the project would reduce imports of some plastic materials, and consequently will enhance Egypt's transformation towards a sustainable green economy.
CEO of the US-based Okeanos International Florencio G. Cuétara said that “Okeanos Egypt” proves that Made from Stone technology is a feasible, scalable and cost-effective solution.
Within the framework of the presidential campaign “Live Green,” the Ministry of Environment focused on curbing the consumption of single-use plastic bags as a way to decrease the danger of such toxic materials on the environment.
Single-use bags intoxicate the land, as most of the single-use plastic bags take thousands of years to decompose and turn into small plastic particles, which leash toxins in the soil and water. Also, marine life and ecosystems are endangered by plastic particles which are found in a huge number in oceans. Marine animals like whales, dolphins and other rare fish die of eating plastic bags.
The Fouad stated last year that supermarkets and hypermarkets are consuming the largest amount of disposable plastic bags, adding that the ministry has taken measures to replace the single-use bags with biodegradable ones in the supermarket chains.
Egypt consumes around 12 billion plastic bags annually. In 2012, plastic bag consumption per capita reached 25 kg, with an annual increase of 6 percent since 2006, which registered 1.64 million tons of plastic bags, according to the official data issued by the ministry as of July 2019.
In 2012, Egypt consumed 2.07 million tons of raw plastic materials, 28 percent of which is produced locally, while the rest is imported. The areas that largely consume plastic bags are Cairo, Delta, and Alexandria, with 40 percent, 23 percent and 12 percent respectively, the report added.
Groceries and commercial shops come on the top of retails that consume the largest number of disposable plastics, with 25 percent and 17 percent respectively, the reported continued.
Head of the Plastic Recycling Division at the Chamber of Chemical Industries Khaled Abul-Makarem stated that Egypt has 1,250 factories for plastic manufacturing nationwide, which also import biodegradable plastic products at a cost of approximately $3.2 million annually.
“The division provides the producers training programs to know how to transfer single-use plastic into multi-usage ones,” Abul-Makarem told Egypt Today previously.
He acknowledged that the cost of biodegradable plastic manufacturing is slightly higher than the traditional manufacture of plastic; it is only 1 percent higher. “One kilo of traditional plastic costs LE 280, while the cost of the eco-friendly plastic is estimated at LE 285.
“It is unpredictable when Egypt will be free from single-use plastic products, as this depends on people’s demands,” he continued, adding that some manufacturers in Cairo, Red Sea, and Alexandria started replacing the traditional industry with the eco-friendly one.