420 tonnes of plastic bags seized in year in Morocco since ban

Plastic bags are still sold in the black market despite the ban

CASABLANCA - Moroccan authorities have seized more than 420 tonnes of plastic bags in the year since the entry into force of a law prohibiting their use, the government said Wednesday.
With the legislation dubbed "zero mika", or zero plastic in Arabic, Morocco became one of the first countries in Africa to impose a total ban on plastic bags, along with Rwanda.
During the year, "more than 421 tonnes of plastic bags, 70 manufacturing machines, 16 vehicles" were seized, and 55 people were arrested, said the interior ministry.
In the first three months of 2017, 36 tonnes of plastic bags and 51 machines were seized in operations to dismantle their illegal production, it said in a statement.
Since the law took effect, the authorities have been strict to ensure its application, especially in shops and supermarkets in larger cities and towns.
Moroccans have instead taken to using fabric bags.
The ministry of industry has set up a 20 million euro ($21.8 million) fund to help companies affected by the law.
The government has described as "encouraging" the results of the ban, saying it had virtually eradicated the use of plastic bags in the country.
Morocco hosted the COP22 international climate conference in October 2016, and in recent years has embarked on a proactive strategy for "green" energy and sustainable development.