On July 3, International Plastic Bag Free Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the harm that plastic bags create to our environment. Plastic bags, when they break down into tiny toxic particles, contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. Most of us use them every day, as they are used by almost every retailer we visit. Whether we’re shopping for groceries or clothes, you can almost guarantee that you’ll be leaving the store with a plastic bag. Therefore, International Plastic Bag Free Day is dedicated to raising awareness about these pressing issues brought about by these most popular disposable carrying devices. We are reminded that those bags we pick up from shops are used for an incredibly short time, usually under 25 minutes, and are then disposed of according to Days of the Year.
The Middle East’s stance on the use of plastic bags has witnessed an epic change as the UAE capital became the first in the Middle East to ban single-use plastic bags on the 1st of June, 2022. Alternatives being provided to shoppers include thicker traditional-look bags, which are intended for use between four and 10 times and can be recycled, bags made out of paper, and sturdy “bag for life”-type reusable woven alternatives according to The National News.
The kingdom of Bahrain announced back in April that it would start banning the import, distribution, and sale of single-use lightweight plastic bags starting mid-September to advance carbon reduction goals. The statement from Bahrain’s state-run news agency did not specify how the upcoming ban would be enforced, whether by fining distributors of the popular thin bags or charging people for their use according to AP News.
Morocco came up with a law to ban plastic bag usage back in 2016. Efforts have been put into action to formalize this ban, but some of the approaches adopted since this law have had limited effects according to Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The state is therefor working on realistic initiatives and approaches according to see this ban come to live according to the Plastic Soup Foundation.
Egypt has also joined the race to eliminate plastic bags as the government has launched its national strategy to reduce the usage of disposable bags. According to Egypt today, in 2021, a national committee has been formed and chaired by the Minister of Environment and representatives of the concerned body to carry out the strategy. Assistant Minister for Environmental Projects Ali Abu Senna stated that The Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (EOS) is working on changing the standards of the plastic bags industry to make the plastic bag thicker and ban the import of the d2w, a substance that is used in the biodegradable bags, as it has been banned by the European Parliament.
As the conversation of sustainability and creating a greener environment catches the attention of the globe, the Middle East region is also on track with new laws and initiatives to eliminate the use of plastic bags.