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Egypt accelerates anti-plastic drive.. WEF applauds
Egypt’s drive to drastically cut plastic waste within the framework of global efforts to combat climate change has drawn applause of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Egypt has over the past period stepped up efforts to reduce plastic waste, use recycled plastic, clean up seabed and Nile River, ditch virgin plastic bags in addition to issuing legislation serving this end.
In 2020, Egypt has given the go ahead of many initiatives to cut plastic waste, topped by the Go Green initiative which was sponsored by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has said – during a recent WEF session on promoting partnership to get rid of plastic waste – that Egypt has passed through several stages to reduce plastic waste; including a national sustainable development strategy, an all-out plan for curbing beaches pollution and engagement in partnerships with youths, civil community, other partners to implement initiatives on spreading awareness on the importance of cutting use of virgin plastic bags.
Fouad noted that the ministry carried out 55 awareness campaigns in several cities, including campaigns for banning plastic bags in Hurghada and South Sinai.
She noted that several campaigns were launched during the coronavirus period to clean Red Sea beaches and seabed.
The Egyptian government’s interest in ditching plastic was manifested in the premier’s decision to form a committee to draw up a roadmap for cutting the use of single-use plastic bags.
Moreover, the parliament has approved a bill on waste management as a step towards creating an integrated system for waste management. This represents the cornerstone for dealing with all kinds of waste in addition to reducing or banning the use or manufacturing of single-use plastic within a limited period.
Striving to attain these goals, Egypt has made 2020 a remarkable year for stepping up efforts and initiatives to ditch plastic waste and seek cleaner environment.
Initiatives for cleaning Nile River and seabed from plastic waste:
Egypt has launched a number of overtures to get rid of plastic waste in the Nile River, Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea through retrieving waste and spreading awareness among people about the dangers of virgin plastic on the environment.
On the 2020 International Women’s Day, the Environment Ministry teamed up with the National Council for Women to launch an initiative to clean up the Nile River from waste.
The overture was spearheaded in tandem with the Very Nile initiative – which commenced more than a year ago and managed to up the number of its youth volunteers to 3,500 youths and collect as much as 35 tons of waste.
This was not the first time for the Environment Ministry to cooperate with “Very Nile” initiative as they joined hands in February 2020 to launch an initiative for ditching plastic bags in the luxurious Cairo district of Zamalek under the slogan “Be fantastic without plastic bag.” This overture is meant to ban the use of plastic bags in 100 shops in Zamalek by the end of 2020.
The initiative also aimed to spread awareness among people about the dangers of plastic waste on the River Nile and encourage the use of cloth bags or eco-friendly products to protect Nile River.
Banlastic Egypt Initiative:
As youths have been key drivers for curbing plastic waste, a group of youths managed to launch “Banlastic Egypt” initiative in August 2020 with an aim to clean up beaches and disseminate awareness among people on the dangers of using single-use plastics.
Banlastic Egypt spearheaded its first cleanup campaign in Alexandria – the largest coastal city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The volunteers managed to collect about 200 kilograms of plastic waste in just one hour.
On the 2020 World Cleanup Day which falls on September 19, the Egyptian Chamber of Diving and Water Sports launched a campaign to clean up beaches of a number Red Sea cities from plastic waste which causes grave harm to the marine life.
Egyptian and foreign youths contributed to the campaign which focused on Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.
In June 2020, the Environment Ministry also joined hands with the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) to launch a 10-day campaign to clean up the seabed of the Red Sea. The campaign – triggered under the “Go Green” initiative – collected about 14 tons of waste.
Go Green presidential initiative:
Egypt launched in January 2020 the “Go Green” Initiative – which is sponsored by President Sisi – to mark a step forward towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The three-year initiative aims mainly at spreading awareness among people about the importance of changing their attitudes to save the environment.
It is also meant to incentivize youths to protect the environment and natural resources, especially curbing air pollution in order to attain Egypt’s strategic goal to reduce air pollution caused by solid particles by 50 percent in 2030.
The initiative also aims at promoting the Egyptian economy, boosting competitiveness and creating jobs in addition to supporting Egypt to fulfill its regional and international undertakings under international conventions in order to achieve sustainability in using natural resources.
Plastic Bank opens in Egypt:
This has been encouraging for Henkel to introduce to Egypt the Plastic Bank Ecosystems – which is a social enterprise aiming to stop ocean plastic and turn plastic into gold by revolutionizing the world’s recycling systems to create a regenerative, inclusive, and circular plastic economy.
Extending their partnership to another five years, Henkel and the Plastic Bank planned to establish a collection ecosystem in Egypt with Plastic Bank expected to reach an additional collection capacity of up to 5,000 tons annually – this corresponds to up to one billion bottles over the five year-period.
The two sides also planned to establish more than 400 Plastic Bank centers for collecting plastic waste in Egypt.
As the world was stepping up efforts to save the planet and fight climate change, Egypt was keen to be on track. The Egyptian political leadership gave due attention to environmental issues and this was manifested in the Sisi-sponsored “Go Green” initiative which was the sparkle that encouraged youths to launch campaigns in this respect. Moreover, companies and international players were incentivized to get engaged in partnerships with Egypt to push forward these efforts which would end up serving the Sustainable Development Goals.