This decree represents a considerable step forward in tackling the many issues caused by excess rubbish and in particular plastic bags in the Red Sea environment. Plastic bags pose a massive hazard to birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine creatures that are killed in alarming numbers each year after swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic bags blown out to sea.
Turtles easily mistake plastic bags for yummy jellyfish. Once in the stomach, the indigestible plastic wraps itself around the intestines of the creature and it slowly starves to death. This year, HEPCA has seen an increase in the number of dead turtles washed up on the shores of the Red Sea. Plastic bags and other rubbish are undoubtedly to blame in many cases.
Typically plastic bags are used for only 20 minutes before being thrown out; but they will each take up to 1,000 years to rot away. During their long decay millions of bags litter and pollute our streets, the desert, and are blown out to sea where they become a toxic plastic soup that threatens the existence of marine and wild life.
The Red Sea campaign follows many high profile campaigns in Europe to limit this most damaging form of pollution. HEPCA is working alongside the Governorate to offer practical solutions and alternatives for plastic bags. As part of the campaign in support of this decree we will also be undertaking educational initiatives and lobbying activities.
Watch this space for more on this pioneering campaign coming soon.
UPDATE 05/11/09: The campaign to make the Red Sea the first plastic bag free governorate in Egypt is a great success. Thanks to everyone for all their efforts. See our news section for the latest news and please keep up the good work!