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Tunisia Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags
Following China’s announcement that it plans to ban single-use plastic across the entire country by 2022, Tunisia has also announced that it plans to make a stand against single-use plastic.
Tunisia plans to stop its supermarkets and pharmacies from using single-use plastic bags from March this year before phasing them out completely in 2021.
Like in most parts of the world, plastic pollution has been a growing problem in the North African country. Tunisia‘s pollution issues also suffer at the hands of its ancient industrial plants and barely managed household waste.
Under the Tunisian government’s new policy, major supermarkets and pharmacies will stop issuing single-use plastic bags from the 1st March, before all single-use plastic bags are banned everywhere by January 2021. Only reusable bags, defined by the government as having a thickness of 40 micrometres and a capacity of more than 30 litres, will be allowed to remain in circulation.
Not the First Time
Discarded plastic bags have long littered the Tunisian landscape, blown across the countryside, entangled with trees and impacting the country’s land and marine ecosystems. Plastic bags are commonly used in Tunisia to transport household waste to local collection areas where they are piled on the side of the road while they await collection by the local municipality.
An attempt to introduce a ban in 2016 was blocked following resistance from the plastics manufacturing and processing industry. However, the proposed ban was enough to stop many of the country’s leading supermarkets issuing free plastic bags. Instead, supermarkets began charging for more durable bags which resulted in a huge reduction in the amount of bags in circulation.
A Welcome Change
Plastic bags can take anywhere between 400 and 1000 years to break down through exposure to light. Even once they are reduced to tiny particles, plastic bags continue to contaminate soil and waterways, polluting seas and rivers and endangering local habitats.
The latest decision to ban plastic bags was welcomed by campaigners but there is still some concern around the effect it will have on small shops that rely on issuing bags to their customers and those that work in the plastics industry.
Plastic bags aren’t the only issue that Tunisia faces. Other single-use plastics such as drinking straws and commercial packaging remain commonplace and pose a severe threat to the environment. However, we hope that this latest ban will be successful and pave the way for future efforts in the country.
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