Egypt's environment ministry launches campaign to limit use of plastic bags in Zamalek

Mahmoud Aziz , Tuesday 4 Feb 2020

The campaign to limit single-use plastic bags in the wealthy island district is being spearheaded by the VeryNile youth campaign

Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad during the initiative launch ceremony on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, in Cairo, Egypt (Photo courtesy of the ministry of transport official Facebook page)

Egypt's environment ministry has said that single-use plastic bags will be banned in the affluent Cairo district of Zamalek.

The ministry has teamed up with youth volunteer group VeryNile on a new initiative to limit the use of disposable plastic bags on the island, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.  

VeryNile organises clean-up campaigns in the Nile and works to raise awareness about environment protection. 

"The shift to using environmentally friendly bags instead of plastic bags needs a change in the lifestyle and a change of habits in a positive way," Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said.

The minister suggested a number of measures to curb the use of plastic, including the use of fabric bags for shopping, getting rid of straws, and using thermal coffee mugs instead of plastic ones. The ministry has launched a similar campaign in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada.

“The ministry's support for such youth initiatives comes in line with state efforts to support youth and work with them on the ground,” the minister added.

With the help of 3,700 volunteers, VeryNile has removed 35 tonnes of plastic waste over the past year.

Fouad called on citizens to reduce their purchase and use of plastic bags and replace them with fabric bags.

The environment ministry launched an EU-funded initiative called “Enough Plastic Bags” in 2017 to eliminate the country’s dependency on plastic bags, due to their negative effects on the environment and the economy.

In April, the Red Sea became the first Egyptian governorate to ban single-use or disposable plastics.

Egypt consumes 12 billion plastic bags annually, the ministry has said.

The country's waste output is 16.2 million tons annually, with plastic making up 6 percent, according to the Egyptian Plastic Technology Centre.

Many other African counties have launched similar initiatives to end plastic bag usage; Rwanda imposed a complete ban on thin plastic bags in 2008, complete with stiff fines and even jail sentences for those caught violating the law.

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