Governmental and private environmental organizations have indicated that the alarming figures of plastic use in Tunisia have become a “strong obsession” which requires more laws and procedures to determine the extent of the use of these materials and impose restrictions. strict restrictions to control violators.
These measures aim to reduce the spread of plastics, whether on the street or in public and private spaces.
In September 2022, the government began implementing a law restricting the use of plastic and banning the use of single-use plastic bags to reduce the spread of waste, but this drew the ire of plastic factories. , who in turn complained about the economic crisis. effects that would result in return.
imminent danger to the environment
Tunisia has gradually taken many steps to reduce the use of plastic, especially bags that are usually used to store bread, vegetables, cereals and other personal effects. However, this has not stopped the spread of plastic waste in public and private places, on roads and beaches. In 2022, the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment launched a national campaign to combat the flow of plastic waste on the coast. The results of the study, conducted by experts from the ministry, showed that 9.5 kilograms of plastic flow daily on every kilometer of the Tunisian coast, which has a total length of about 1,500 kilometers. According to the same study, the beaches of the governorates of Monastir, Nabeul, Mahdia, Sfax and Medenine are the most polluted by plastic waste, as they are the favorite destination for summer visitors and the most attractive for tourists. In 2023, the Ministry of Environment has approved the organization of the “Year of Cleanliness” event, and its departments are working in cooperation with 11 World Bank experts to prepare a strategy under the slogan “Coast without plastic” , to raise awareness of the health risks posed by plastic in its various uses.
What are the experts saying?
Nidal Attia, a member of the “Tunisie verte” network, an organization that defends environmental issues and the right of citizens to live in a healthy environment, described the introduction of plastic materials into the daily lives of Tunisians as “a serious pest that threatens humanity”. health, and requires the imposition of stricter measures.
Attia said in an interview with “Sky News Arabia”:
“Current indicators of the spread of plastic waste in the Mediterranean are alarming, as around 8,500 tonnes of waste is dumped into seawater and around 4.2 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.” “The way of life in Tunisia has become based on the massive use of plastic. Restaurants rely on plastic bags to preserve food, and textile factories, in turn, rely on materials that contain plastic, even if it’s a small percentage.” “This depletion in the use of plastics poses an imminent danger to human health, the environment and the environment.” “Efforts to curb the overuse of these materials and reduce the harm they cause also require revising the designs of containers or bags produced by plastics factories, and replacing existing bags or products such as plastic utensils or cups that are used in cafes with other recyclable materials or for other purposes.” “Many aspects of environmental and climate damage are primarily represented in global warming resulting from plastic manufacturing, and there does not appear to be a steady reduction in the use of these inexpensive materials, including the low prices and variety shapes and types encourage continued use despite their damage.” “Women are more likely than men to be exposed to the dangers of plastics, due to their greater use of these abundant materials in the kitchen.”
An international obsession
On the other hand, environmental expert Amal Jarad said: “The harms of the use of plastic materials and the risks resulting from waste have become an international concern, not only in Tunisia”, adding that many international treaties emanating of the United Nations “are working to reduce this environmental and health scourge.” .
Jarad told Sky News Arabia:
“The main source of plastic is oil, from which plastics are made, and therefore the industrial revolution is the first factor in spreading the risks associated with the use of plastic in everyday life.” “Plastic has become present in all household and daily activities without exception. For example, when you visit a hospital, most materials are plastic. The same goes for schools, restaurants and public and private spaces .” “The waste spread in nature poses a great threat to human health, especially when we consider that 30% of plastic is eliminated by throwing it in nature.” “The greatest danger of the scourge of plastic lies in the deposit of waste in the sea and then its disintegration in water, which constitutes serious damage to human health and biodiversity, since the components of these materials when they break down are mostly hydrogen and carbon.”
Plastic bag factories in Tunisia have protested against moves to ban the use and sale of plastic bags, arguing that it would worsen the economic crisis they are going through.
Oussama Al-Masoudi, responsible for the plastics sector within the plastics processing complex in Tunisia, revealed that “the crisis in the sector is a crisis of laws, given that the State has approved measures aimed at limiting the use of bags made of this material, without thinking of the serious economic and social repercussions on the activity of the factories.
In a statement to Sky News Arabia, Al-Masoudi said:
“The problem started 3 years ago, when a law was enacted to ban the use of single-use plastic bags, which required the state to accompany manufacturers to help overcome the potential negative impact on the sector, but this did not happen, which deepened the crisis in all the factories.” The Tunisian government called on the plastic bag factories to turn to alternative sectors, such as fabric and cardboard bags , but the machines currently in use are unable to produce other types of non-plastic bags.” “Industry activists are proposing to suspend the law banning the manufacture of plastic bags, until machines for the production other bags are available, or that the factories are helped financially to overcome their economic and social difficulties.” “There are about 80 plastic bag factories in Tunisia, which provide around 3,000 direct jobs, and these factories are facing economic difficulties, in addition to their technical inability to manufacture the bags required by the Ministry of the Environment”.
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