Rabat - To please the COP officials in the expectation of the forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change (COP22), due to take place in Marrakesh from 8 to 17 November 2016, the Moroccan government precipitately decided to outlaw the very popular, useful but yet noxious plastic bags.
Rabat – To please the COP officials in the expectation of the forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change (COP22), due to take place in Marrakesh from 8 to 17 November 2016, the Moroccan government precipitately decided to outlaw the very popular, useful but yet noxious plastic bags.
The decision was to be carried out July 1st, 2016 and the official campaign handled by a shadowy NGO, with too an official name: “Coalition Marocaine pour la Justice Climatique” and of which nobody has ever heard before.
The Ecological kingdom
The Zéro Mika campaign was on and the official media was subliminally blaring messages to that effect. On July 1st, 2016, it turned out nobody was ready for this. The businesses were at total loss and so were the customers. For half a century mika ruled supreme in Morocco and was used as a carry bag, liquid recipient, water proof shelter, etc. Super markets customers were angry at the government and they threatened to return to buy groceries from the traditional suk instead, as a form of retribution.
Noor Solar power plant in Ourzazate: the biggest in the world
Colette Apelian, researcher, writer, and e-learning professor (Morocco, North Africa, Consulting) points out quite convincingly:
The Zero Mika plan was put into place to show Morocco’s commitment to environmental concerns just before COP22 in Marrakesh and, according to a recent Aujourd’Hui editorial newspaper article, to help prevent the tons of plastic trash in Morocco. However, from my observations, buying groceries in the old and new cities of Rabat, the ban hits hardest the small businesses, especially in the old city, where not every as yet is complying. One wonders if the cost will be passed along to consumers. Ironically, from my experience, the single-use plastic bags are usually reused in Morocco. They are washed or not, and then given away by vegetable and used clothing vendors in the old madina or old city, for example, where one typically finds the street markets. Another ironic observation is that most of the plastic trash in Morocco that I have noticed does not only come from the single-use bags for groceries, but also the plastic containers and wrappings, especially for Yogurt drinks, snack food, and candy bars. They form the litter along the beaches and the sidewalks. Will these be banned too?
However, though the Zero Mika decision is wise on the part of Moroccan government, making this kingdom one of the few countries in the world to walk this path for a green economy and a green culture, yet there is a high price to pay: replacing plastic with paper will put the country’s few remaiing forests in jeopardy, in the long run, no doubt.
But, as Morocco was trying to be the Ecological Kingdom to please the world with such policies as the massive solar power plant in Ourzazate and now the no plastic bag decision, the government was stupidly moving to open the door to European trash starting with first the Italian refuse and the French next. The selfish and opportunistic Europeans will not have to worry they can over-consume, at will, and the Moroccan government will obsequiously dispose of their rubbish, be it noxious for health or not.
The Moroccan government adulates Europe: not only they will do everything that it dictates but, also, serve as a gendarme to check African clandestine migration to the extent that some European politicians have, at some point, called to create parking zones for clandestine migrants in Morocco to spare their people the sight of drowned poor Africans on their beaches. Europe does frequently, in the name of partnership, call on Morocco to do the dirty work as well as donkey work for it and might end up calling Morocco the « trash country » maliciously destroying its painstakingly image in the making of the Ecological Kingdom, par excellence.
Linguistically speaking “trash country” in English is bad, but, it is even worse in Moroccan Arabic: blad az-zbel. It hurts. Nevertheless, the elections are coming up and time will show whether people will get rid of this government that is making Morocco an international dump site or keep it…
Alas, none of the opportunistic and tamed national political parties are denouncing this gross decision; the only activism available is registered as usual among the Moroccan Facebook population. They have fielded petitions and are busy vilifying the government for this unwise and stupid move.
Rather than retract from its position, the government, in the person of the very establishment Minister of the Interior, has defended the decision to add salt to the injury, arguing that it is undertaken within the limits of the international practice. However, if it is the case why does not another European country volunteer to take the Italian wast. The answer, they will not dare expose the health of their people to the hazards of unknown refuse and If they do, they will, undoubtedly, herald their political end.
However, one wonders if Morocco outlaws the use of plastic bags hurriedly without any psychological preparation to sever the population from a useful and handy friend of half a century and at the same time accepts more hazardous waste from a European country, then something is really rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark. Has this decision been dictated by Europe. If so, where does our sovereignty start and where does it end? It is worth knowing. Also, if Italian refuse is not noxious, as the Minister of Interior argues, then why do not the Italians dispose of it themselves? Something is, definitely, fishy somewhere.
Is Morocco still the most beautiful country in the world?
Many years ago, the Ministry of Tourism did run in the media an advertisement stating single-handedly that Morocco is the most beautiful country in the world. People criticized such an assertion and rejected it with various counter examples as well as acid humor. Will this ministry run, now, an advertisement dictated by the above-mentioned government action stating quite rightly: “Morocco is the trashiest country in the world. Your refuse is very much welcome”? Of course, this is just a wild idea tongue in check.
However, if Morocco decides to become the dump site of the world, it must consider training young Moroccan to become expert refuse recyclers and waste pickers known in Moroccan Arabic as mikhala.
Maria Sarraf, Lead Environmental Economist at the World Bank, believes that Morocco, as of now, is doing a great job recycling waste especially at Oum Azza dump site situated outside of the capital Rabat:
“What Morocco is doing is exemplary. They are looking at waste as a resource rather than trash. The Oum Azza site is a promising model of what other landfills can and should look like with the roll out of the government program. Combining recycling, value chains and jobs is a good recipe to make the dump story a success story.”
At, the Oum Azza landfill facility, waste pickers extract the equivalent of 2,200 tons of solid waste a year meant for reselling and recycling and 100,000 tons of green refuse to be used as compost.
Waste-recycling and green energy with the Noor solar power station in Ourzazate are great ecological moves and Morocco is doing just fine in this particular area. Indeed, the world press applauds the kingdom for its wise decisions that can be copycatted elsewhere.
Africanews approves of the Moroccan ecological policies by stating that:
“As far as green energy is concerned, Morocco has been the go-to country.”
And goes on to make a wish:
“Hopefully Morocco’s example will inspire other countries at the COP 22 to turn the somewhat abstract success of the Paris treaty into concrete action.”
But, by importing European noxious rubbish for opportunistic material value, Morocco is consciously putting the health of its citizens at risk and might, in the long run, lose its Ecological Kingdom attributes and with it world sympathy.
You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter: @Ayurinu