Lonely Planet Writer

Morocco introduces blanket ban on the use of plastic bags

Morocco has taken a giant green leap by introducing a complete ban on the use of plastic bags in the country.

Plastic bags have been banned in Morocco following a government decision to boost the country's eco-system
Plastic bags have been banned in Morocco following a government decision to boost the country’s eco-system Image by velkr0 / CC BY 2.0

The bill to stop production and use of the bags was passed by the parliament last October but only came into effect on 1 July.

Marrakesh will host a conference on global warming in November
Marrakesh will host a conference on global warming in November Image by Martin Varsavsky / CC BY 2.0

Yahoo News reports that the move is part of an effort by countries across North Africa and other countries around the world to become more environmentally conscious.

Morocco already leads the way together with Bhutan, Costa Rica and Ethiopia as one of the world’s greenest countries.

Already achieving ambitious targets on carbon emissions, the country has received kudos for its stance with Marrakesh hosting a conference on global climate change later this year.

However as shops and street sellers strove to source reusable bags, it was evident that the drastic change in the banning of plastic bags would not be easy. After the USA where there have been attempts to limit their use, Morocco uses more plastic bags than any other country – about three billion in 2015.

That translates into every one of the country’s 34 million people using 900 bags per year.

New York-based lawyer Jennie Romer believed the blanket ban will take time because it requires a cultural shift. She said the government had the motivation to enforce the bill but its agencies had to be “completely on board” to make it happen.

According to Al Jazeera, the Industry Minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy, said on his Twitter account that there were several alternatives including bags made of paper and fabric.

Plastic bags take hundreds of years to degrade and a government campaign has been highlighting why these bags are dangerous for the eco-system.

Mamoun Ghallab, a sustainable development consultant said things would progress much slower unless citizens were made aware of the challenges being faced.