SwitchMed pilots two entrepreneurial actions to prevent most commun plastic marine litter in the Mediterranean sea
In the Mediterranean, marine litter is becoming a critical issue, exacerbated by the basin’s limited exchanges with other oceans, its densely populated coasts, highly developed tourism, 30% of the world’s maritime traffic passing through and various additional inputs of litter from rivers and very urbanized areas. Furthemore, recent studies have proven that plastics, usually single-use bags and bottles, are the most commonly encountered waste.
Solutions to prevent plastic to end up as marine litter exist and have already proved to be effective. Most of these solutions build not only a circular economy approach but also on a smaller plastic industry, thus prioritizing waste prevention and reuse/recycling of materials and products. As part of the EU-funded SwitchMed Programme, the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) has developed recently a publication 25 solutions to Marine Litter. The “25 innovative and inspiring solutions to combat plastic marine litter in the Mediterranean Region”publication is conceived as a practical tool for entrepreneurs and CSOs to identify the best solution for their context and be guided towards its successful implementation.
SwitchMed, in synergy with Marine Litter Med program, has taken this publication further and used it as inspiration for facilitating concrete actions on reducing marine litter and the promoting green entrepreneurship. In Morocco, SCP/RAC supports two pilot projects "alternatives to single-use plastic bags" and "collection and recycling of beverage containers" which aim at preventing or minimizing the use of persistent plastics liable to end up as marine litter in Morocco. They could also be replicated and promoted in other Middle East–North Africa (MENA) locations by companies and civil society organizations.
Alternatives to single-use plastic bags
SCP/RAC promotes an action in Morocco to support the country in transitioning from single-use plastic bags to more responsible options. Indeed the country banned single-use plastic bags through a national law in 2016. Although a good progress has been achieved in reducing these bags, there is still room to advance in better, durable alternatives. For this, awareness and functional design play a key role. Thus, the action is based in two pillars that are implemented through two beneficiaries:
This project focuses on the benefits of (re)using alternatives to single-use plastic bags. Indeed, multiple-use bags, baskets or shopping trolleys are much less expensive in the medium and long-term. The campaign includes actions through social media and hands-on in markets and, where reusable bags are being exchanged by conventional ones and consumers preferences and perception is analysed. Finally, beach litter monitoring in planned in the Mediterranean coast to better understand pollution sources.
On the other hand, the Association du Docteur Fatiha (in partnership with women cooperatives located in the Oriental region of Morocco), is producing and testing different durable carrier bags by reusing for example flour bags. A more fashionable type of bag has been also designed through this action through applying a traditional embroidering technique to the recovered flour bags. Thus, while creating new jobs for many women, the association contribute to safeguard handcraft heritage and the environment.
The action also investigates the carrier bags preferences by retailers and consumers, as well as how to promote cost-effective production of alternatives to single-use plastic bags at a larger scale.
Collection and recycling of beverage containers
This pilot project starts with a study implemented by the consultancy SUNOV Engineering to find out about the collection and recycling circuits of plastic bottles and aluminium cans in Morocco. The findings will serve to evaluate whether a second stage is feasible, which will consist in implementing a reward system for beverage containers using reverse vending machines in selected supermarkets. For this, the first phase will include contacts with large retailers to raise their interest on implementing this system. Furthermore, the inclusion of waste-pickers associations in the collection-recycling system is being sought.