Last week, an important decision was taken by the Senegalese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Starting April this year, all water sachets and plastic cups will be banned in the country.
The Plastic Bags Ban Law was already adopted in Senegal in 2015, but it didn’t have any real commitment from local authorities regarding its effective application and implementation.
Kenya’s plastic ban followed in the footsteps of Rwanda and Morocco, and these initiatives have led other East African countries like Tanzania to also introduce a complete ban on lightweight plastic bags. In total, according to a United Nations December 2018 report, there are 34 bag bans or taxes across the African continent.
Thanks to the growing movement of people demanding a plastic-free Africa and the increasing number of champion countries across the continent, we are thrilled to see positive steps toward a plastic-free Africa. African governments are beginning to see huge benefits to the environment as a result of the ban.
For Senegal, there is still a long way to go, since we need to make sure that the scope of the 2015 Plastic Ban Law will be fully applied with a ban on all single-use plastic.
With an average use of 5 million plastic bags everyday by Senegalese households and with 30% of livestock deaths due to fragments of plastic bags scattered in the wild, this renewed commitment by Senegalese authorities constitutes a great leap forward in the fight against plastic pollution. It serves to reinforce additional programmes such as “Zero Waste” and “Clean Senegal”, championed by the President of the Republic, Macky Sall.
The negative impacts of plastic pollution on terrestrial and marine ecosystems are notorious with serious consequences for the public health of Senegalese. For the Senegalese people, this decision comes at the right time, as our oceans, beaches and cities are already suffocating under the plastic endemic.
Over the past two years, Greenpeace Africa volunteers have conducted a series of clean-ups and brand audits to raise awareness about plastic pollution across Africa. In Senegal, we’ve noticed that water sachets and plastic cups always top our list of plastic waste collected. If fact, of the 1,731 discarded items collected at our most recent audit, plastic sachets and cups accounted for 86%.
Building on the great decision by the Senegalese government, Ministers for Environmental Protection of the 15 member countries of the regional body ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) have also decided to put a ban on the import, production and marketing of plastic packaging in the region by 2025. The same applies to the ban on the installation of new plastic packaging production units in the ECOWAS countries.
This regional approach to phase out single-use plastic is a major milestone in the campaign to see the beauty of West Africa again – a beauty that is now drowning in layers of plastic.
Contacts: Oceans Campaigner, Awa Traoré; International Comms,Tal Harris